The Human Cost of the 2019 South Yorkshire Floods

On the 7th November 2019, South Yorkshire was hit by its most devastating floods since 2007. That night, during unprecedented levels of rainfall, water began spilling into homes. Families raced against time to move what belongings they could out of reach of the rapidly rising water and retreated upstairs. Others had to simply leave their home behind or wait to be evacuated. The flooding happened fast, with little warning and those impacted have been struggling to recover ever since.

The latest figures provided by the four local authority areas show that over 1,000 households have been impacted by flood water with the resulting damage making many homes uninhabitable for at least the immediate future. Areas of Doncaster have been particularly hit hard with many of the low income and most disadvantaged areas worst affected.

The extraordinary response from affected communities to help one another since the flooding began has been a lifeline for many. From a cup of tea and a listening ear to large scale volunteer community clean ups and food and cleaning goods donations, people have stepped up without hesitation. These efforts into the Christmas period with volunteers setting up Christmas parties and dinners to provide some relief to families as they deal with the disruption to their lives.

Yet, the cost of the flooding across South Yorkshire and beyond extends far beyond the financial and impact on day to day living. The negative impact disasters have on the mental health and well-being of those affected can be huge and long lasting.

In Bentley in Doncaster, a volunteer coordinator from St Peter’s Church said:

“One man told me that he’s been thinking about just driving into a brick wall. His wife is at home just staring into space and not talking. They can’t cope with what has happened to them.”

For many, they cannot cope with the scale of damage to their homes and disruption to their lives.

After the flood waters subsided, taking weeks in some areas, people are now assessing the damage and long-term implications and cost of making their houses homes again.

South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF), a local charity, set up an emergency appeal the day after the flooding hit and has been working to provide financial relief to affected households. Beginning with £200 blanket payments to help families with immediate needs, soon larger payments will be available to help those now dealing with repairs to their homes.

SYCF ran a similar appeal in 2007 and raised almost £1.6m at that time to distribute out into communities.

This time around the charity has already raised just under £500,000 and is continuing to distribute funding to affected households.

Ruth Willis, Chief Executive of SYCF said:

“We have had an incredible response to our appeal and people have been so generous. The payments we are making all come from charitable donations and are truly appreciated by those who have been affected by the floods.

“Our work on the flood appeal and supporting people will continue into the long term and we are doing our best to raise as much money as possible as for many the cost of the clean up and repairs their homes need is unfortunately going to be high, whether they are insured or not.”

“I visited a woman living in Bentley in one of the worst flooded streets and even nearly four weeks after the floods she still has water pooling under her floorboards. This was even with running industrial level dehumidifiers and heaters to try and dry it out.

“What was particularly troubling was that she also has lung disease and has no other option but to continue living in her home despite the damp, which is a huge risk to her health.

“So many people, who are still reeling from the floods are incredibly vulnerable. The community efforts on the ground are truly amazing and humbling but we need more support and more resources for everyone impacted. I can’t overstate how important it is that we raise as much money as possible so we can help as much as we can.

“If you can give, no matter how much or how little, then please do. It really will do so much good.”

You can donate the South Yorkshire Flood Disaster Relief Appeal by going to: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/syfloods

If you have been flooded and require financial aid then please click here >

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