After an onslaught of heavy rainfall throughout the holiday season, residents in Leeds are facing serious flooding, with entire homes and businesses devastated from the rising water levels. On December 27, officials from the the Environmental issued a red warning for several parts of the city, including the city center, warning that entering these areas poses a major “risk to life.”
Despite these high alerts, Leeds students ignored the Environmental Agency’s warnings, and on Boxing Day, were spotted gliding down Kirkstall Road on a whitewater raft.
But after the River Aire burst its banks, the water flooded into neighboring streets and neighborhoods, where the university students were found careening through a scene that was described by many as “apocalyptic.”
In the United States, approximately 28% of all Americans participate in whitewater rafting as a recreational activity. As a sport, whitewater rafting can present a series of dangers for a rafter on the rapids. But this group of doomsday rafters in Leeds faced entirely different risks and challenges.
Kirkstall is a northwestern suburb that sits on the eastern side of the River Aire in Leeds. According to recent reports, the River Aire rose up to 2.95 meters — over two meters higher than its normal rise.
Despite being known as a “flood area,” the rapid onslaught of water flooding into the streets took residents by surprise, as shops and businesses were evacuated after being submerged in water.
West Yorkshire Police officials released statements, warning residents to avoid the flooded streets at all costs, speaking candidly of the risks at hand.
“Flood water is dangerous and could well contain contaminants and debris so it is best avoided if possible,” said a spokesperson from the West Yorkshire Police. “Those who enter it willingly for fun should be aware they are potentially putting themselves at clear risk.”