'We could be homeless for eight months' - major disaster teams hit Doncaster flood village

The water has gone at Lynne Williamson’s home in Fishlake.

By David Kessen
Thursday, 14th November 2019, 8:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 10:28 am

But she, and her family, like many others in the village, are only at the start of their struggle to rebuild their lives after the devastating floods which hit the village.

The insurance company has already given the go-ahead for work to go ahead to start replacing the ruined carpets and furniture, and to dry out the soaked timber and plaster. But she knows it is going to be a long time before the place is back to normal

“We’ve been told at least six to eight months,” Lynne said.

Fishlake flooding November 14th 2019. Fishlake resident Lynne Williamson returns to her house to see the damage the floods have done. Picture: Chris Etchells

She watches the workmen taking ruining items away, as the rain falls again on the village. Residents are concerned about the weather, fearful about what more rain could bring.

“We’ve started the process. The thing is, now it is all about drying it out. It is going to be a joint effort sorting things out, the insurance and help from the family.

“But the support we have had here from the neighbouring villages has been amazing. There has been a lot of help from Stainforth, but also from Thorne and Moorends. I can’t praise them enough.”

Lynne’s street, the main road through the village, was clear of water today. But many side roads, such as Trundle Lane, are still submerged in parts.

Fishlake flooding November 14th 2019. Louise Holling from The Old Butcher's serving food and drinks to the volunteers and rescue services. Picture: Chris Etchells

She was amazed with the speed the water rose last week. She had an elderly neighbour round and went out and saw the water had started to rise.

She went out and again the it had nearly reached the house. Five minutes later it was on the drive and at that point told the neighbour she must stay with her and her husband.

Lynne brought her children up in the house. She had not wanted to leave, but the couple evacuated at the insistence of their worried grown-up children and they are now staying with their son.

There has been no phone and no internet. Some properties had no electricity after some of the junction boxes blew up. A substation has had to be repaired.

Fishlake flooding November 14th 2019. Pictured is Pam Webb, owner of Truffle Lodge luxury spa in Fishlake, near Doncaster. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We’re starting to get over the shock,” Lynne said. “It’s devastating, but there are people worse off than us who have lost everything.”

Workers from the council and other agencies have been on the scene for a week now, since the first day. Access is still limited, due to road closures.

With some of the water now gone, the village has the air of a disaster movie, with the ever present emergency services and soldiers on every street, vastly outnumbering the residents.

The occasional resident can been seen walking in the pouring rain – many parents with their children, with youngsters currently away from their schools because of the disaster.

Fishlake flooding November 14th 2019. Picture: Chris Etchells

But you are more likely to see someone in an army uniform, or a whole platoon of troops heading down the street together.

The forces are putting in place sandbags to prevent any further flooding as more rain comes down. They wear wellington boots rather than army boots.

It is not just the army which give the village such the feel of a disaster zone. There are the many fire service vehicles, carrying markings from services from all over the country, sent to help the effort.

The roads are devoid of regular cars – you are more likely to see one of many police cars that are driving slowly around the village, a deterrent to any criminals.

Hi-vis jackets are also all around – worn by the team of workmen from an electricity company who had dug up a road, and by the industrial pumping experts, brought up from the South of England to help clear the water. A Red Cross vehicle is parked in the street – the charity has sent a number of volunteers to help. So have a number of businesses.

The most bustling part of the village is now the Old Butchers restaurant, on Main Street. Louise and Claire Holling and their staff have been dishing out free refreshments to the relief workers.

Louise said: “We started off with our own stock, but we’ve been working with donations more recently. We’re trying to feed everyone. We served up 80 or 90 bacon butties to the army this morning.”

Louise, who lives in Fishlake too, runs a small holding and the fields where her animals graze have been underwater, although she feels she is one of the lucky ones in so far as her house was not under water. The animals were moved onto trailers.

She feels there are a lot of people helping the village. The council now has a support base in the village hall too.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go," she added.

Business woman Pam Webb, who has seen her spa business in the village, was given assurances by Prime Minister Boris Johnson no businesses would suffer financially as a result of the floods.

But she is concerned what the ongoing rain will bring.

She had been devastated to be told her insurance had an exemption clause for floods. Her lawyers are now looking into that.

“Things are hectic now,” she said. “We’ve been getting skips into the place. There has been a refuse collection for the church and the Hare and Hounds pub, where people have been gathering.

There is a communications firm putting things in place so that there is a better signal for communications, which the army and the emergency services need as much as the residents.

Meanwhile, the aid effort in Stainforth continues.

Volunteer George Derx estimated he had slept for around seven hours since the disaster emerged. He is one of many who have been spending hours at the Stainforth Resource Centre, which is the collecting point for donations which have been sent out to the village.

Phill Bedford, from the community organisation Stainforth4Allwhich run the local library, said they were now focusing on what people needed, which was money, and said donations of money could be made at the library. A number of appeals are now running, including one by South Yorkshire Community Foundation

He praised the efforts of Doncaster Council in responding the the emergency, with manpower and its hub at the village hall. “They have been really committed,” he said.