Christmas shoppers 'trapped' in Sheffield as torrential rain causes floodwater to rise

7 November 2019, 17:45 | Updated: 8 November 2019, 01:25

Shoppers are being kept inside Meadowhall Shopping Centre as the floodwaters rsie
Shoppers are being kept inside Meadowhall Shopping Centre as the floodwaters rsie. Picture: LBC News/Lee Parkinson
Kate Buck

By Kate Buck

Christmas shoppers have been trapped inside Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield after the area was deluged with a month's worth of rain.

Earlier in the evening the annual Christmas Live event was cancelled over fears river could put festive revellers at risk.

Sheffield police have confirmed people were being kept inside for their own safety, and pictures from inside show all the shops have been shut.

Some have claimed that hundreds are now being kept inside, and accused the centre of cancelling the event too late.

One wrote: "So my 15-year-old daughter and friends cannot leave Meadowhall. No money, and the eateries will not allow me to make payment by card over the phone."

"Majority of shops closed. Cancelled way too late in my opinion."

For all the latest on the weather chaos across the country, follow our live blog HERE.

Shops have shut in the centre, leaving shoppers milling about
Shops have shut in the centre, leaving shoppers milling about. Picture: LBC News
Shoppers are now allegedly being held inside Meadowhall (top right)  over fears for their safety
Shoppers are now allegedly being held inside Meadowhall (top right) over fears for their safety. Picture: Lee Parkinsnon

The centre initially said the annual Christmas lights switch-on was going ahead at around 2pm, but were deploying some of their flood defences.

But the call to cancel the event was made shortly before 5pm - an hour after the gates to the event were opened.

Shopper Lucy, who was at the Meadowhall, told LBC News that it was "absolute chaos."

"There were a few hundred cars trying to get out at the same time.

"I think it due to the fact they canceled the Christmas light event so late in the day that everyone is trying to leave at the same time and staff are being told to get out of bottom floor shops."

Dakota Hallam, 12, who was attending the event with her grandmother, said she had been inside the centre for "absolutely ages."

She continued: "We came here to go the live event but it was cancelled and I think it's ridiculous."

When asked how long they might be kept inside the shopping centre, Dakota said she didn't know, but that police had said it would likely be until the extreme weather died down.

"We've asked people in Greggs if they're staying overnight and they're staying overnight so we might as well.

"We could go and get our pyjamas from Primark."

The Environment issued a red flood warning for the area around the River Don, which burst it banks shortly after sunset this evening.

Other parts of Yorkshire have been hit by torrential rain and pictures from the area have shown drivers abandoning their cars in an effort to escape the rising waters.

People in the shopping centre are being told not to leave over fears the flooding could affect the surrounding areas.

At the time of writing, there are 71 flood warnings in South Yorkshire and 23 in West Yorkshire, with some being evacuated from their homes over fears for their safety.

A red flood warning has been issued over fears the River Don will burst its banks
A red flood warning has been issued over fears the River Don will burst its banks. Picture: Environment Agency

A statement from the shopping centre said: "The weather is ever-changing but the latest advice is to now leave the centre as the traffic has eased but you should expect severe delays.

"For the best route home please visit the Twitter channel for South Yorkshire Police. 

"Our focus currently is on the incident in hand but we will update you on whether Meadowhall will be open for business tomorrow as soon as we are able.”

Additional reporting by Vicki Smith.

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