Roads gridlocked and families told to evacuate as flooding causes misery
DERBYSHIRE was gridlocked by travel chaos and families were warned to leave their homes as the worst of four days of flooding hit the county.
The south of the county was hardest-hit yesterday with 34 families warned they should leave their homes as floodwaters rose.
The A38 from Burnaston to Lichfield was shut from lunchtime after the River Dove burst it banks and remained closed late last night.
This left drivers forced to find other routes, which resulted in traffic building up throughout the county – with parts of the A38, A50, A516 and other roads into Derby all affected. Roads in Repton, Sawley, Marston-on-Dove and Walton-on-Trent were also among routes closed because of flooding, adding to the traffic chaos.
Derbyshire County Council estimated that at least 50 homes had been flooded from when the heavy rain began late last week until yesterday.
Rain is likely to hit the county again tomorrow but forecasters say Derbyshire will become drier as the week continues.
People living in 34 homes in Willington and Barrow-upon-Trent were being advised yesterday to think about leaving their homes – as the River Trent rose to "critical levels".
But a spokesman for South Derbyshire District Council said it was thought the river had peaked last night and would start to recede slowly today.
He said families had decided not to use the rest centre opened at Findern Village Hall, in Castle Hill – either choosing to stay in their homes or find refuge with other family members or friends.
The spokesman said: "Rain is forecast over the next 24 hours but it is not expected to be torrential, so the situation was better than we had originally anticipated.
"But we have been speaking to people living in the homes to make sure they are happy and all right."
He said sandbags were still being handed out to people living in South Derbyshire, particularly in Swarkestone.
The flooding also caused major disruption to buses across the county, with Arriva Midlands and Trent Barton services either reduced or delayed.
This included Trent Barton's V3 service – normally running from Derby to Burton via Repton – which was going from the city to Willington only.
And its X38 service was delayed for up to two hours trying to reach Burton town centre.
Among commuters affected by the traffic delays was Jean Blackman, of Hardbin Road, Walton-on-Trent.
She said: "My partner was trying to get to Barton this morning from Walton-on-Trent and it took two hours because bridges had been closed because of the floods."
Rachel Butler, content editor at the Derby Telegraph, had a nine-hour journey back from Plymouth yesterday.
Extensive flooding on her trip meant four changes on buses to trains.
She said: "It was typical that I would go down to Devon when the floods were really bad and come back to Derby when lots of the county has also been flooded."
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it dealt with numerous calls from members of the public about the state of the roads.
A spokesman said: "These people have ignored closure signs across the road.
"They have been driving through very deep flooded areas and, as a result, their cars are cutting out – leaving them stranded.
"The main areas have been west, south-west and south of Derby."
Officers from the county's RSPCA team have also been rescuing animals trapped by floodwater – including a dog and cat in Milton.
And many homes have been affected. In Shardlow, Richard Gent said water had been rising in his cellar steadily through the day.
The Back Lane resident said: "I think the flooding is going to be as bad as it was in 2000 – when I had five feet of water in the basement.
"The water was already at about four feet last night. It's a wait-and-see situation now."
And, in Twyford, farmer William Bird said the flooding had ruined some of the crops on his land by the river.
He said: "The wheat will have rotted away because it's only a seed in the ground.
"We've had to move all the sheep to higher ground, too."
The Met Office said the wet weather was set to continue today until about noon, when it should start to clear.
And tomorrow is expected to be fine and dry, with temperatures up to a high of six degrees.
But the Environment Agency warned last night that "large, slow responding rivers" will continue to rise over the next few days, particularly the River Trent.