Family heartbreak as Doncaster flood victims still suffering one year on

A desperate flood victim tried to throw herself on railway tracks after a year-long insurance battle.

Meanwhile an elderly couple are still living in a caravan and “freezing to death”, going to bed early at night to huddle under electric blankets.

It’s 12 months since the floods in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, which destroyed 1,000 homes and 565 businesses – yet the heartbreak continues.

The Mirror revisited residents of Fishlake and Bentley who had to be evacuated after a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours last November 8.

They told horror stories of vulnerable people being “ripped off” and “exhausting” battles with insurers.

Dozens of families are still living in temporary accommodation.

Mum of two Claire, 41, who did not want us to use her surname, told how the stress of dealing with an insurance company became “too much”.

She said: “I tried to throw myself on the railway tracks. I had taken my medication and passed out just before them. We’ve had to argue for everything. It’s been exhausting.”

The family lived in a hotel for two months, surviving on £10 each a day, though work on their home is now underway.

The stress led to Claire separating from partner Lorna, 40, who said: “This has killed our family.

“Insurance companies need to realise the impact they have. Everyone is not out for what they can get, we just want our house back.”

Colin Kerry, 79, and wife Maureen, 78, from Bentley, got their house back in June but are “nearly £4,500” out of pocket.

“It was the third time we’d been flooded and the worst,” said Colin.

Daughter Julie Jaques said: “The insurance company, RSA, was diabolical. Everything is done through emails, so I had to do it all for them. They’ve withheld all the money for the carpets.”

In Fishlake, Mary Bulmer, 74, feels “frightened to death” of more flooding and abandoned by her insurer.

She and partner Mick Marsden, 79, live in a caravan in their garden.

“We’ve lived here 47 years and never been flooded before, it just came like a wave,” she said.

“We are freezing to death. If we want to be comfortable we have to go to bed. It’s really got to Mick and I worry about his health.”

The couple were offered a £32,000 settlement but were quoted £54,000 for the work by a builder.

“We just couldn’t accept that,” said Mary, and work on their home has yet to start.

Dean Edwards, a local resident, has been fighting for them and other “ripped off” locals.

He said: “It’s been unbelievable. Mary was not even told about the £10 a day she was entitled to and hasn’t had a penny.”

He said in one case a family were offered a £55,000 settlement but fought to finally receive £90,919.

Another couple, Kath Smith and Mick Ryan, are renting an annex in Fishlake.

It took two months for insurance assessments to take place on their bungalow before a battle with builders about mouldy plastering.

Mick’s cancer returned just before the floods and they had to shield in the pandemic. Kath, 76, said: “I don’t know how we’re standing but we are.”

Dan Greenslade, 35 and his partner are back in their home after taking a payout and arranging the work themselves.

“It takes constant phone calls and chasing,” said the dad of one.

“It got harder in lockdown. There should be more help for vulnerable residents.”

Lee Mooney, CEO of insurer Military Mutual, said of Mary’s case: “We are absolutely sorry for this delay. We have to look at some of our processes.”

RSA said of Colin and Maureen’s case: “We’re sorry they are unhappy with the handling of their claim and have sped up work where we can.”