Maureen Gilbert, an 83-year-old woman, tragically lost her life during the floods caused by Storm Babet. Her son, Paul Gilbert, described the heartbreaking moment when he found her lifeless body “floating in the water” in their home in Chesterfield. As she was disabled, Maureen lived downstairs, prompting Paul to spend hours setting up flood defenses in the hope of protecting her from the impending disaster. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, the floodwaters proved too powerful and destructive.
Maureen reached out to her son on Friday afternoon, alarmed by the water entering her residence. However, due to hazardous flood conditions, it took Paul seven hours to reach her home, and by the time he arrived, it was engulfed in water. Paul’s desperate hope was that his mother had managed to retreat to higher ground, but the reality was far more tragic. He recounted the harrowing experience of returning to the property early Saturday morning, forcing open a window, and discovering his beloved mother’s lifeless body amidst the floodwaters.
Frustration and anger consumed Paul Gilbert as he expressed his discontent with the state of flood defenses in the area. Feeling let down, he voiced his belief that insufficient measures were being taken to protect vulnerable communities. Recalling the disastrous floods of 2007, he emphasized that the people in Chesterfield had suffered greatly in the past and were now experiencing yet another devastating event.
Storm Babet unleashed chaos across England, with estimates suggesting that over 1,200 homes were flooded as a result of its relentless force. Chesterfield, in particular, bore the brunt of the destruction. The region had already experienced severe flooding 16 years prior, during the exceptionally wet May-July period in 2007. The aftermath had left enormous damage in its wake, costing billions of pounds.
Paul Gilbert remarked on the community’s proactive efforts to protect themselves and their properties from the anticipated ordeal. Together, they did everything within their power to mitigate the impact of Storm Babet. However, the flood defenses that had provided a glimmer of hope failed, leaving Paul devastated. He had clung to the belief that his mother would be safe, but the bitter reality shattered his sense of security. Words cannot express the overwhelming grief that Paul and his family are experiencing in this moment.
While the cause and circumstances surrounding Maureen Gilbert’s death remain under investigation, authorities believe it is directly related to the flooding that plagued the Chesterfield area. The police and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service continue their efforts to gather all available information to shed light on this devastating incident.
Although floodwaters in the north of Derbyshire have largely receded, debris left in their wake poses risks to the community. Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service remains vigilant, particularly as incidents may arise in the south of the county. Additionally, the Environment Agency has issued warnings that major rivers in affected regions, including Nottinghamshire, may remain flooded until Tuesday. Meanwhile, parts of Scotland, Yorkshire, and East Anglia continue to grapple with disrupted train services as they recover from the aftermath of Storm Babet.
In the face of this heart-wrenching tragedy, it is crucial that we reflect on the importance of bolstering our communities’ resilience against natural disasters. No individual should have to face the immense loss that Paul Gilbert and his family have experienced. Let this devastating event serve as a reminder to prioritize the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens when considering flood defense strategies.