AS THE havoc wrought by Storm Dennis entered a fourth day, Monmouth was brought to a standstill by an unrelenting river Wye.

A severe 'danger to life' warning had been put in place for the river, overnight from February 17.

Monmouthshire County Council had said: "Due to unprecedented river levels on the Wye and the Monnow that will peak in the early hours of the morning (February 18), all emergency services are engaged."

Weather stations in the rivers Wye and Monnow, which straddle Monmouth, recorded record river levels of 7.13 metres and 6.56 metres, respectively.

It was not all foreboding statistics however, as a partially flooded car park on Cinderhill Street and an out of order ticket machine meant visitors to the town could park free of charge.

South Wales Argus:

Heading into town, the River Monnow was running almost to the apex of the arches supporting Monnow Bridge.

Despite the height of the water, the Monnow was fairly sedate compared to Monmouth's other river.

Crossing the A40 at the lights adjacent to the Wye bridge at the other end of town, the surging Wye could be heard long before it was visible.

Endless torrents were pouring through the narrow gaps between the stanchions.

These gaps were made narrower still by assorted flotsam, including large branches and even a large gas canister, which thankfully became dislodged.

South Wales Argus:

River Monnow and Monnow Bridge


The water had all but filled the underpass beneath the A40 meaning a tricky crossing was needed to get the best view.

However, one man decided to go old school in his approach to dealing with the flooded walkway.

The keen canoeist, who gave his name only as Mr Symonds, managed to navigate the subterranean obstacle in his very own coracle - a small, rounded, lightweight boat traditionally used in Wales, Ireland and parts of Scotland.

"Me and a mate paddled one of these down from Ross recently in about two hours," he said.

He said the pair were even contemplating whether it would be possible to kayak under the main Wye road bridge.

"Its the highest I've ever seen it," he said.

"The real danger is these big bits of timber.

"People are cutting them deliberately and dumping them in the river as they know it'll take it all away."

South Wales Argus:

The Wye bridge was open to pedestrians early this morning, but was later shut to all but emergency workers.

This decision left people such as Paula Morgan stranded on the opposite side of the river to their cars.

Ms Morgan parked on the eastern side of the bridge, near Wyesham, and walked into Monmouth earlier in the day.

However, she was then unable to get back to her car as the emergency services had since shut it to pedestrians as well as traffic.

"The river's gone down since then," she said.

South Wales Argus:

"If it was closed first thing I wouldn't have parked there in the first place."

Wyesham was only fairing slightly better than Monmouth however. The water treatment works at Mayhill, midway between the two, was fairing even worse.

The plant was flooded and without power, meaning there was only a limited amount of drinking water available.

Residents and businesses across Monmouth were asked to limit their use of water until further notice.

Welsh Water tankers, filled with drinking water, arrived in convoy to provide some relief.

More serious action had to be taken to save one elderly gentleman however, as mountain rescue teams were called in to rescue Peter Morgan after he had been trapped in his home.

They made their way to Mr Morgan's home with a raft and used a sledgehammer to break his back door open.

He eventually reached dry land at 11.20am.

Police, fire and mountain rescue crews had been manning the Wye bridge and surrounding areas all day through the wind, rain and hail.

The Estero Lounge, on the town's high street, was offering free tea and coffee to all emergency crews as thanks for their efforts.

South Wales Argus:

Another Monmouth resident, Samuel Fisher, praised the work of all the emergency services.

"They are doing a fantastic job here, and all over south Wales. I take my hat off to them," he said.