BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Are blocked brooks to blame for flooding?
6:03pm Tuesday 3rd June 2014 in News
WATERWAY: The footpath from the St Joseph's Meadow estate to the railway line had at least a foot of water. -Photo taken by Mike Villars (6690998)
People whose homes were flooded in Cwmbran last month are still living with the fall-out of the waters damaging their properties. LAURA LEA investigates.
EXCESSIVE rainfall caused flash flooding across Gwent recently and while there’s no one to blame for the freak weather conditions, some residents were left wondering why their homes had been so badly affected, while others stayed dry.
On Thursday, May 22, storms and high rainfall battered Gwent, flooding roads, shops and even bringing a supermarket ceiling down in a matter of minutes.
Residents in Cwmbran, one of the worse affected areas, told the Argus it was like “a wall of water”, “a river” outside their homes.
As some battled to keep the flood water out many could do nothing but watch as it streamed into their properties.
The Barratts St Joseph’s Meadow estate off Grayson Way in Llantarnam was badly hit and appeared on the front page of the Argus the following day, showing residents knee-deep in muddy water outside their doorsteps.
Martin Jones’ home on Grayson Way was flooded to the extent he and his family have been forced to move out.
He said: “We had about four inches of water all the way through.”
Carpets, sofas and other furniture were all ruined.
He said: “My house is lower than my garage and my garage is bone dry”
Neither of Mr Jones’ neighbours’ properties were flooded and the fire service attended to pump water from the streets on Thursday afternoon.
It’s understood the excessive water flow in Spring Meadows was the result of a blocked culvert – maintained by the council.
A Torfaen council spokesman said: “We undertake regular inspections and maintenance of all culverts on council land, but on this occasion the rain we experienced was simply unprecedented.
“It caused a huge amount of debris to wash down into the culverts which we couldn’t have foreseen or prevented given the forecast for that day.
“Our crews began undertaking clear-up work as soon as it was safe to do so and while some work is still on-going, we had cleared of the worst of the blockages by the end of the bank holiday weekend.”
Pictures taken by residents showed a large industrial container, trees, a mattress and other rubbish piled in the Cwmbran brook behind their homes.
It is understood industrial estates which border the blocked brook will be contacted by council officers to clear any debris.
Both Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water confirmed that neither the culvert nor Cwmbran Brook are their responsibility in terms of maintenance.
Natural Resources Wales said they received reports of flooding in Llantarnam and attended the site where the cause of the flooding was confirmed as a blockage of a culvert on an “ordinary watercourse”.
Pictures taken by Poplar Place resident Mike Villars show a car submerged in water – which he says was subsequently was written off.
Residents say drainage problems have been longstanding, especially with regard to flooded gardens.
Chris Bodman said: “Barratts said they are doing what they are obliged to do.
“But who’s going to take responsibility?”
Mr Villars was involved in the public enquiry against the Abbey Park development adjacent to the St Joseph’s estate.
He is worried the drainage problems on the estate will worsen with the addition of another 48 properties.
Torfaen councillor David Daniels, who was out chatting to residents last week, said: “He got constant assurances about drainage problems, but it doesn’t seem to be the reality.”
St Joseph’s Meadow is due to be adopted by Torfaen council this September.
Steve Williams, managing director of Barratt South Wales, said the development met all the standards required.
He said: “We have continued to work closely with the relevant local authorities to minimise the impact of the flash flooding and as a gesture of goodwill have cleaned the roads and the gullies on the development.
“In line with all of our developments, everything is built to the agreed planning permission, rules and regulations.
“The drainage is all fully compliant with the requirements of the environment agency and meets all necessary standards.
“The fact that the water all dissipated from our site within a couple of hours reinforces the effectiveness of the drainage system.”
Another area badly hit was Two Locks Road, with residents fearing blockages in Dowlais Brook to be the blame here too.
A skip stands outside Sian Price’s home full of her flooring and furniture – all ruined.
Ms Price has had to move her three young children to her mother’s as she tries to deal with the damage made worse still by the fact she didn’t have home insurance.
Her neighbours, Ruth and Mostyn Powell, both in their eighties, described the ordeal as a “nightmare”.
It took their insurers six days to come out to assess the damage.
Muddy water, contaminated with sewerage, flooded their conservatory, kitchen, garage and sheds, destroying electrical appliances and causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage.
In February, the Argus revealed more than 8,000 homes in Gwent are at risk of a flood likely to happen once in 100 years or sooner.
You may not be able to prevent flooding, but you can be prepared. Sign up for free flood warnings by phone, text or email with Natural Resource Wales.
If your home is about to flood, Natural Resources Wales recommends you switch off gas supplies, electricity, move vehicles if safe to do so and move furniture, pets and important items to safety.
If there’s time, flood protection products like sandbags, airbrick covers and flood boards can be fitted.
Emergency sandbags can be sought from local authorities.
Residents who may be at risk should ensure their insurance policy covers flooding.
But once flooding occurs, take caution and wear waterproof outerwear, including gloves and wellington boots as flood water is often contaminated.
Ring your buildings and contents insurance company as soon as possible.
If you rent your property, contact your landlord and contents insurance company.
If you do not have insurance, the council will provide information on hardship grants or charities that may be able to help you.
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