Thursday, 14 Nov 2019

Floods force Meadowhall shoppers to bed down in shopping centre

Severe flooding forced shoppers and staff to camp out overnight in a Sheffield shopping centre as the city was hit by a month’s rain in a day.

Dozens of people were stranded at the Meadowhall complex as nearby roads flooded, shutting all public transport and leaving them with no way of getting home.

Images on social media showed people bedding down wherever they could.

Primark worker Liam Kelly, 27, said he didn’t chance walking home – which would have taken over an hour – because of the torrential downpours which have so far claimed one life.

He said hordes of people were led to the food court and instructed to stay put by Meadowhall staff.

“There were around 40 to 50 people also stuck with no way of getting home – most of them shoppers who had come down to see the Christmas lights switched on,” he told Sky News.

Mr Kelly said the shopping centre did not provide its customers or staff with any pillows or blankets.

“I saw a few people buy pyjamas from Primark and pillows from Wilko,” he said.

Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield. Pic: Luke Turner

“I wasn’t given any water throughout the whole night, and I don’t know if others were given any or not. Luckily I had a bottle of water on me.”

He said many people had bought last-minute meals at McDonald’s at around midnight – the only restaurant left open – before settling for the night in the food court.

“By around three or four in the morning, the shopping centre had started to get people taxis to take them home, and they were paying for them,” he added.

Hannah Crossley, who also spent the night at the centre, said she had watched water levels rise until they were “centimetres away from flooding over the wall”.

Luke Turner, who works at Meadowhall, said he had been unable to drive home because the staff car park was flooded.

“For safety reasons the police are keeping us inside Meadowhall. Everyone has been helpful. There are drinks knocking around, coats, covers to keep us warm. It’s quite a good atmosphere, but a bad situation.”

Samantha Ratcliffe-D’Arrigo, a radio presenter in Las Vegas, was at Meadowhall with her husband. mother, sisters and brother-in-law.

“First thing we did was buy plugs and phone chargers,” she told Sky News.

“We stocked up on food from Marks and Spencer. Then we basically set up a base camp in Coffika and had lots of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. We’d already bought the pyjamas from Primark.

“We’re a fun family and decided to wear the pyjamas and prepare for an overnight stay.”

Saskia Hazelwood, 17, a student at New College Doncaster, was there with friends for a Christmas concert – which was cancelled.

She said her father had tried to drive to get them but was forced to turn back because the roads were closed.

“Our trains were then cancelled so we went to get food, then spoke to the police and security and they told us it was unsafe to leave and there was no way of getting in or out, so we instantly started panicking,” she said.

“We went into Primark and all bought spare clothes and we bought food and drinks to keep us going throughout the night.

“We were in M&S for a while on the sofas until they closed the store and we were then moved to the Oasis food quarter. We were there until 7am.”

She added: “I understand the flooding was dangerous but a lot more could’ve been done, and they could’ve been a lot more clearer about the situation… as a lot of people were confused and asking a lot of questions.”

Mr Kelly said staff at the shopping centre began arranging taxis to take people home from around 3am, when the rain began to ease off.

Meadowhall opened its doors to customers at 10am this morning.

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