Major incident declared in South Wales after Storm Dennis

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Police have declared a major incident in South Wales after severe flooding from Storm Dennis overnight.

Streets have been evacuated with the help of a lifeboat in some of the worst-hit areas and people moved to emergency rescue centres after their properties and businesses were devastated by water from overflowing rivers.

On Sunday afternoon South Wales Police said they had declared a major incident as firefighters and rescue crews continued to help communities who have been cut off due to the flood water.

Assistant Chief Constable Jennifer Gilmer, said: “I would like to reassure the public who have been affected that we are doing everything we can, and will continue to work tirelessly until all risks dissipate.

“I would like to thank all our emergency services and rescue partners for their assistance and professionalism.

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Winter weather Feb 16th 2020
A member of the public wades through floodwaters (Ben Birchall/PA)

“I have very clear advice for everybody, which is not to panic, and to be sensible, stay well clear of any danger such as streams and rivers, and contact us in an emergency.”

The force have told people in affected areas to stay indoors unless a journey was necessary, avoid waterways, and monitor local and social media for updates.

One of the worst-hit areas in South Wales was the village of Nantgarw, Rhondda Cynon Taff, near Cardiff, which had seen entire streets left underwater since the early hours of Sunday morning.

Emergency teams including firefighters and volunteers had been evacuating the village’s Oxford Street since around 5am and were still working midday on Sunday.

Paul Mason, group manager of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said the scene his team had faced was the worst he had experienced in his 31-year career.

Winter weather Feb 16th 2020
Rescue operations continue in Oxford Street, Nantgarw (Ben Birchall/PA)

He said: “We started getting calls at 5am.

“The water was up to the window sills in some instances, so we sent a number of boats and crews down here to assist with our partner agencies, systematically going through each of the houses, knocking on doors, trying to prioritise individuals.

“This weather is unprecedented.

WEATHER Storm
(PA Graphics)

“We haven’t seen this, it’s incredible, and it’s right throughout the South Wales Valleys.

“In my 31 years in the service this is the worst I’ve ever seen.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”

He said some residents had refused to leave their homes despite being encouraged to, but would be monitored for their safety.

Resident Greg Curtis, 68, was rescued by lifeboat from the street around 1pm, said he and his wife were first woken by neighbours banging his home at 4am on Sunday morning, and described the incident as a “nightmare”.

He said: “The water was about two feet up to my house.

“It just came really quick.

“I feel a bit miffed, but it is what it is.

“I’ve lived here for 46 years and we’ve never had anything like this here.

Winter weather Feb 16th 2020
Residents are taken to safety (Ben Birchall?PA)

“When the water comes down I’ll go back and then we’ll get into the insurance part and fight to get whatever.”

Melanie Hughes, 38, was also evacuated by lifeboat with along with her husband and two daughters, said she was awoken by shouting and car alarms in the early hours, and said many of their family’s possessions had been lost.

She said: “Everyone’s safe, which is the main thing. We were lucky.

“But our cars, kitchen, furniture, it’s all gone.

“It’s going to be a couple of months of hard work, now.

“It was filthy, there was nothing to salvage.”

Katherine Murphy, another evacuated resident, said: “Our downstairs is just a total mess.

“It’s filthy everywhere, it smells, it’s horrible.

“I went downstairs about 5am because an alarm was going, and I saw there was water coming in downstairs. It was really quick.

“Outside the cars were underwater.”

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