'Brave' volunteer drivers hailed heroes for running residents' lifeline for flooded Doncaster village.
A legion of volunteers have been hailed heroes for putting their own safety at risk to help the victims of the floods which have swept Doncaster.
Owners of four wheel drive vehicles and tractors, as well as boats, have stepped forward to provide an emergency link between the stricken flooded village of Fishlake, and an emergency support centre which has been set up by volunteers in Stainforth.
They have driven both people and supplies to and from the Hare and Hounds pub and St Cuthberts Church, which have emerged as depots and meeting points for residents who did not want to leave their homes. They have also carried messages and checks on people whose phones are cut off.
Phill Bedford, who was among those running the emergency centre in Stainforth, set up at Stainforth Resource Centre next to the town council officers, was among those praising the courage of the drivers driving through the floodwater into an area designated as under a severe flood warning with danger to life
He said: “People are all trying their best to help what is the next village to us, and there are people who have not got a lot who are giving a lot.
“The problem has been getting things to Fishlake. The authorities want people to leave, but they're not leaving. We have got some really brave local people who have been going in and out and in and out.
“They have taken a woman who wanted to be re-united with her family. They have also taken food and takeaways across because people had not got any hot food.
“There are people who haven’t got a lot who are giving a lot. The response has been amazing.”
Among the drivers running the emergency shuttles are Volker Rail worker David Carpenter, aged 48, and his son, Aiden, 21, from Dunscroft.
David had been on holiday in Egypt when he first heard about the floods, and Aidan volunteered straight away to help with the family’s blue Land Rover Discover. David joined him when he returned to Doncaster on Friday.
“We’re part of this community,” he said. “I know people are stranded and don’t want to leave their homes. We came home and asked if we could take the Land Rover and help.
“We got back to Doncaster on Friday and went straight out. It has mostly been food and toiletries and blankets that we have taken across to make their lives a bit easier out there, and we probably made five or six journeys in one night. It is a slow journey driving steadily through the water.
“We are pleased to help out. It really saddens me to see what has happened. We passed a tractor trailer with a lady on it whose house had been flooded, crying her eyes out.”
Among those at the emergency centre was Julie Graham, who had left the flooded family home on Trundle Lane, Fishlake. Her husband had stayed in the house because they were concerned about possible looters, despite a police presence in the centre of the village.
Eventually, her husband joined them, with concerns over more rain. They stayed with relatives.
She said: “I left on Saturday, with the kids. Our car’s still there, and so is the pram. We’ve had to borrow one.
“We lost contact with my husband at one point because the mobile phone signal went, but an appeal was put out in the community for someone to check on him from here. they have been brilliant, and they’ve been taking food to the Hare and Hounds.
“People have pulled together so much – I've not seen anything like this since the pit strike in the 1980s.
“We’d had flood warnings. But when I asked for help to evacuate my dad, who is disabled, they said it wasn’t necessary. They left it too late, and then it took 14 people and firemen to lift him onto an inflatable raft to a boat and an ambulance.
“Trundle Lane hadn’t flooded since 1932. We begged and begged for sandbags but didn’t get anything. It was up to the top of my legs before the severe flood warning. Someone got my husband out on a tractor with a trailer.”
Volunteers and donations have been arrived at the resource centre, and at the library, throughout the emergency.
There have also been donations from organisations including a Sikh temple, and van loads from Moorends Miners Welfare Community Development Centre.
Takeaways from all over Stainforth donated meals to be carried across to Fishlake on Saturday evening, as well as several vats of stew, because residents in their flooded homes did not have power to make hot meals.
Stainforth resident John Farmer brought in a food donation. “I often give to food banks,” he said: “”We wanted to bring something for the people of Fishlake. I suspect that many won’t be back before Christmas. I would gladly have a family round for Christmas too.”
Stainforth mum Rosemary Squires spent Saturday at Stainforth Library, keeping it open 6.45am on Sunday morning. It was opened to offer accommocation and shelter to any flood victims, with food and clothes available.
Now, Monday, the resource centre is equipped with blow-up mattresses and bedding for anyone who is evacuated from Fishlake.