A woman died after being swept away in floodwater as parts of northern England and the Midlands were battered by a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, causing water to breach banks and sweep over flood defences.
Her death in the Derwent at Rowsley, near Matlock in Derbyshire, came as the Environment Agency (EA) warned people to stay away from swollen rivers, councils evacuated hundreds of houses and emergency services used boats to rescue stranded homeowners.
Dozens of people were forced to spend Thursday night in the Meadowhall shopping centre near Sheffield.
Roads around the centre had flooded after water from the Don poured over the top of defences completed last year at a cost of more than £20 million.
On Friday night, Boris Johnson visited Matlock to help with the clean-up operation and said the government is putting £2.6bn towards flood defences.
"People have been moved out of their homes and probably hundreds of businesses have seen damage to their properties - we stand ready to help in any way that we can," he added.
By Friday afternoon there were six severe “danger to life” warnings in place around the Don, which also breached its banks at St Oswald’s Church at Kirk Sandall.
On Friday night, 116 flood warnings were in place, mostly in Yorkshire.
Allen Cowles, a councillor in Whiston, Rotherham, where residents were evacuated as the Whiston Brook burst its banks, said: “I am laying the blame squarely on the Environment Agency. They put in minimal flood defences.
“The flood defences have not been raised at all, they are only around 18 inches – the height of a riverbank.”
The EA insisted defences had held around Sheffield. It said fewer than 10 properties had been affected and less than 10 people in the area had been forced to evacuate their homes.
A spokesman said: “Following any flood, we work with the Lead Local Flood Authority, whose duty is to look at the causes and seek to learn lessons.
“The flood defences in Sheffield were not breached, but we regularly monitor all flood defences as a part of our routine maintenance programme.”
Swineshaw in the Peak District recorded 4.4in of rain on Thursday – the most anywhere in England – while parts of Sheffield experienced 3.3in.
The average monthly rainfall for Yorkshire at this time of year is 3.5in. Residents in Toll Bar, near Doncaster, described Thursday’s downpour as “almost biblical”.
“You were just looking out of your window in disbelief at how much of it was coming down,” said Toll Bar Post Office worker Kathleen Overton, 61.
"People’s cars were getting submerged, gardens were ruined, you couldn’t drive anywhere. It was carnage.”
Residents on Yarborough Terrace in Doncaster, including a disabled man trapped in his home, were rescued from their homes by boats as waist-high water filled the street.
Resident Jason Richards, 44, said: “I swept it up with the broom at first, but every time I brushed it away more water just kept on coming back.”
Lacey Hanrahan, 24, was rescued with her baby by boat. “I just can’t believe how deep the water has got,” she said.
In Mansfield, 35 homes were evacuated as a precaution after a mudslide in the area, while residents in around 25 homes in Worksop were also ordered to flee due to the risk of flooding.
In Lincolnshire, the River Witham had risen so much that residents said they were able to see swans swimming up to the edge of their properties.
“I didn’t realise how high the water actually was until I went out and there was a group of them right next to my wall, they were that close I could touch them,” said resident Chelsea Foster, 23.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they rescued more than 100 stranded people on Thursday night, with around 500 calls to its control room between 10pm and 4am.
Professor Hannah Cloke, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said the floods had been caused by a ‘storm factory’ over the Atlantic bringing torrential rain.
She warned more could be on the way. “If these atmospheric conditions don’t change, it could lead to more rain on the way, potentially causing more floods,” she said.
“It’s impossible to protect everyone from flooding, we will never be able to do that, so we have to stop building on flood plains.”
The weather caused train services to be cancelled and Northern Rail issued a “do not travel” warning to commuters using some of its routes.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) also warned of delays after the East Coast Mainline was flooded between Leeds and Doncaster.
Alex Burkill, meteorologist with the Met Office, said: “The rain is easing and moving south but obviously the impact of that will continue to be felt.
Commuters face evening delays
Passengers in the north of England can expect travel delays this evening as flood waters continue to cause mayhem. Network Rail and train operators are warning passengers to expect severe disruption.
Passengers travelling are advised to check their journeys before travelling by visiting National Rail Enquiries or the website of their train operating company.
Flooding expected to continue in Doncaster
Doncaster Council have issued an urgent update, warning of flood risks in the Bentley area.
In a Twitter post they said: "Following the heavy rain, we are continuing to respond to a major incident for Doncaster with several flood warnings still in place for Kirk Bramwith, South Bramwith, Kirk Sandall, Willow Bridge, Barnby Dun and Bentley.
"The evacuation for Kirk Sandall has been stood down and residents affected have been advised. Please be advised that there is now an imminent risk of flooding to the Bentley/ Scawthorpe area.
"Residents in these areas are being informed by police, fire and rescue and council officers to evacuate their homes and they are being supported to do so. Rest Centres are in place for those affected who are unable to stay with friends and family."
Disabled man rescued in Doncaster
A disabled man has been lifted out of his home on Yarborough Terrace in Doncaster by fire and rescue crews.
It is thought he has not been able to leave his home since flooding started on Friday morning.
The wheelchair-user was loaded onto a boat and taken through the floodwater to the front of the street, where extra emergency service personnel were able to help him.
He was lifted out of the boat onto a chair, before being wheeled into the back of a van and driven away.
Woman's body pulled from flood water in Derbyshire
The body of a woman has been pulled from flood water in Derbyshire.
According to Derbyshire Police, emergency services were called to a stretch of the River Derwent in Darley Dale, close to Matlock, in the early hours of this morning.
"The woman was reported as having been swept away by flood water in Rowsley and the body of what is believed to be the same woman was found in Darley Dale and was recovered at 10.40am," the force said.
"The family of the woman have been informed and our thoughts are with them at this time."
Threat level lowered, but Environment Agency urges people to keep clear of rivers
The Environment Agency (EA) reduced its number of flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected - to below the 100 mark, with forecasters predicting the worst of the rain had been and gone.
But parts of South Yorkshire remain most at-risk, with six severe warnings around the River Don predicting properties and roads face further flooding.
Chris Wilding, EA flood duty manager, said: "Our field teams have been operating flood defences and deploying temporary flood barriers to help protect people and property.
"We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to walk or drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car."
Residents evacuated from Doncaster in boats
Boats rescued residents from waist-high water on Yarborough Terrace in Doncaster.
Police cars surrounded the area as rescue teams put down sandbags.
One woman, who has lived in her home on the street for more than 20 years, said the downstairs of her property had filled with water at around 7am on Friday.
"I've never known it to be this bad", she said.
Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said she will have to house her daughter and grandchildren for the next few days as a result of the flooding.
She said: "We've just taken the decision to get out of here as soon as possible - it's dangerous as it is and it'll only get worse."
Rainfall was 'almost biblical', says residents
Residents in the village of Toll Bar near Doncaster, which was hit by severe flooding in June 2007, have told how "almost biblical" rain came down on Thursday.
Post Office worker Kathleen Overton said: "It must have started at around 9am yesterday when I was taking my grandson to school, and then it just didn't stop.
"At one point the water was coming right over my doorstep, and my daughters and I were worrying that it was going to come into the house."
The 61-year-old added: "People's cars were getting submerged in the water, gardens were ruined, you couldn't drive anywhere. It was carnage."
Another resident, Roy Kerr, 71, said that without the help of young volunteers who put down sandbags and pumped out water, the situation could have been even worse.
He said: "It wasn't as bad as it was in 2007, but it easily could have been if it wasn't for those lads."
Month's worth of rain falls in 24 hour period
Parts of England have endured a month's worth of rain in just 24 hours.
4.4in of rain fell in Swineshaw in the Peak District on Thursday - the highest total of anywhere across England - an Environment Agency (EA) rain gauge revealed.
Flood-hit parts of Sheffield experienced 3.4in during the same period.
The average monthly rainfall total for Yorkshire at this time of year is 3.5in, although forecasters have predicted that the worst of the rain is now over.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: "Some places have seen a month's worth of rain in one day.
"The rain is easing and moving south but obviously the impact of that will continue to be felt."
Tracks flooded as train delays and disruption to set to continue
Travel disruption looks set to continue for most of the day, with photos released by London North Eastern Railway revealing submerged tracks between Leeds and Doncaster.
According to National Rail, all lines between Doncaster and Sheffield, as well as Wakefield Westgate and Sheffield via Moorthorpe, are currently blocked.
CrossCountry trains will be diverted via Barnsley where possible, and will be unable to call at Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate.
Shoppers stranded overnight in Meadowhall
Shoppers and concert goers were forced to spend the night in Meadowhall's food court until 7am.
Saskia Hazelwood, 17, from Doncaster, said she was among those stranded.
She said: "When we got to Meadowhall it was very hectic and we heard about the flooding and saw the river about to burst.
"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 and, when we found out there was no way of getting home, 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.
"We were provided with free refreshments throughout the night and morning but it was certainly not enough. We had to basically camp out in the food area until they finally got a taxi to us at 7am.
"None of us had slept for over 24 hours. We were very tired, stressed and, of course, our families were panicking and kept keeping in touch."
Travel chaos as passengers warned not to travel
Thousands of commuters face mayhem as torrential rain causes disruption on the transport network in parts of England.
Several rail lines are blocked due to flooding and train operators are warning passengers not to travel on a number of routes through Yorkshire and the North West.
This includes lines from Sheffield to destinations such as Leeds via Moorthorpe, Lincoln, Doncaster and Goole.
Trains are also unable to run on routes such as Manchester Piccadilly-Cleethorpes, Leeds-Doncaster and Hebden Bridge-Rochdale.
Rail replacement bus services are not being provided due to road closures and unsafe driving conditions.