Darton and Wombwell, given their close proximity to the River Dearne and Dove respectively, accounted for most of the flood-damaged properties following last Thursday’s torrential downpour which saw more than a month’s rainfall in a 24-hour period.
According to the Environment Agency, rivers peaked at three times their normal height in the early hours on Friday, sparking knee-deep flood water on more than a dozen streets which had to be closed.
Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton told the Chronicle that the local authority is providing £250 to each household affected by the floods to help towards buying essential items such as food, clothing and sanitary products, while the government confirmed on Wednesday that they will add £500 to each to help communities recover.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that they will be providing funding for a recovery grant, providing up to £2,500 per eligible small and medium-sized business which has suffered severe impacts from the floods that cannot be recovered from insurance.
Sir Steve said: “A total of 88 homes were flooded and while it’s not as bad as what we had in 2007, once everything has settled we will be working alongside the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water to carry out a full review and making improvements where they are necessary.
“The good news is that the defences we put in place following the 2007 incident stopped last week’s flood from being much worse. That’s no comfort to those who were affected, but we are trying to do everything we can to help.
“The review will look into the lessons we’ve learned this time round, as clearly work does still need to be done. The problem is the weather - when it gets so bad, there’s only so much you can put in place to attempt to stop floods.
“Council tax will also be discounted for periods in which affected residents are unable to live at their home, while the same will be done with regards to business rates.”
On Station Road in Wombwell, residents complained that four-by-four drivers came out to ‘joyride’ through the floods and ignored police tape which had been put up to close off the route.
This, they told the Chronicle, created a tidal wave-style surge which saw water breach sandbags and metal doorstop defences, but local business owner Sami Hairat praised the community’s response.
Mr Hairat, who runs the Premier store on Station Road, added: “I opened up on Friday morning and a surge of water came out of the door. It was devastating as I couldn’t get insurance and I’ve lost about £20,000 in stock.
“My customers have been at the shop all week cleaning, mopping and disinfecting. I’ve no words to describe just how much their help means to me.”
Residents whose homes are near known flooding blackspots will be consulted with as part of the review, Sir Steve added, and he said the council won’t be complacent when it comes to acting.
“We’ll be talking to residents in order to listen to their concerns,” he said. “I can’t praise our staff and the emergency services’ response enough as we’ve had some people working for 72 hours doing all they can to help.
“We won’t be jumping to conclusions but we will learn something from this terrible incident.”
Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis urged the government to invest more cash to protect residents from future floods.
“It’s imperative that a review into our flood defences begins as soon as possible and this must involve leaders from across South Yorkshire,” said Dan, who is seeking re-election as MP for Barnsley Central.
“Even though Doncaster’s currently experiencing the worst of it, it’s been an issue for Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield at some point during the last week.
“I’ve spoken to the prime minister this week as it’s vitally important that those affected receive the help they need and measures are subsequently put in place to stop this from happening again.”
n More on the floods: page 13
n Impact on local sport: page 18