Britain is now on high alert for further devastation, with more downpours expected today. The woman died after being swept away by fast-flowing flood water, as the heavy rain saw rivers burst their banks. Her body was pulled from the River Derwent, in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, about two miles from where she was reported missing in Rowsley early yesterday morning. The death came as the Environment Agency repeated warnings for people to stay away from swollen rivers.
Last night, six severe “threat to life” warnings were issued, with 60 severe weather alerts and 99 flood warnings in place.
Thousands of people have had to flee their homes. Properties were evacuated across Yorkshire and the Midlands, with people seeking temporary refuge in hostels and even town halls.
More rain is expected today before an improvement in the forecast for Sunday, but emergency services warned that as the mass of flood water recedes it risks causing further devastation as it pours into rivers and flows at high speed downstream.
Thursday was officially the wettest November day in Sheffield since records began in 1882 and it came after one of the soggiest Octobers on record.
The devastation across South Yorkshire was the worst since sections of Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster were decimated by summer floods in 2007, which left a £30million clean-up bill.
But while £21million flood defences installed last year prevented widespread damage to much of Sheffield, there is anger that work is not completed in neighbouring towns. Homes in Doncaster have been washed out after the nearby River Don breached its banks.
Some residents had to be rescued from flooded homes by boats as waist-high water filled their street. A council spokesman said: “Rest centres are in place for those affected who are unable to stay with friends and family.”
Post Office worker Kathleen Overton, 61, from nearby Toll Bar, said: “The rain was almost biblical, I would say. You were just looking out of your window in disbelief at how much of it was coming down.”
South Yorkshire Fire Service said they rescued more than 100 stranded people on Thursday, with around 500 calls to its control room between 10pm and 4am. About 30 people sought refuge in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.