150 rescued from west Wales floods

 

A large-scale rescue operation was launched today to get around 150 holidaymakers and residents to safety after a raging torrent of floodwater engulfed communities in west Wales.

Senior politicians, including Pime Minister David Cameron, tonight paid tribute to Royal Air Force helicopter crews, fire service teams, coastguard and RNLI lifeboat crews and the emergency services who ensured there were no serious casualties.

They rescued and evacuated people from homes and caravans as caravan parks and villages near Aberystwyth became submerged in several feet of water after twice as much rain fell in 24 hours than normally falls in the area in the whole of June.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has spoken with Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones and Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, to be fully briefed on the flooding in the west of the country.

"Mr Cameron offered his full support to all those affected by the extreme weather and passed on his thanks to the dedication of the RAF, lifeboat crews, emergency and other local services who have worked tirelessly to make people safe and keep disruption to a minimum."

An inshore lifeboat team taking part in relief efforts had to be airlifted when they got into difficulties after helping to pluck a disabled man from a flooded caravan because a Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter was 20 minutes' flying time away.

Four holiday camps along the River Lery were completely evacuated when the swollen waters breached its banks, and 150 people were sheltering in rest centres having been rescued, police said.

The Secretary of State for Wales said: "This has been a very impressive operation in horrific weather conditions and with unprecedented flood levels.

"Those involved in the rescue mission at the caravan parks in Llandre have acted quickly and with courage.

"Wales Office are in contact with the teams involved and I would like to offer them my support and thanks for the way in which they have come to the aid of all the residents and holidaymakers affected and kept disruption to a minimum."

Mr Jones was "very concerned" about the flooding.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "He has been receiving updates throughout the day on the situation.

"The First Minister's thanks go to all those involved in the rescue operation."

Dozens of people took refuge in a community centre in Talybont when flood water surged through the village and three people were winched away from the Riverside Caravan Park in Llandre by RAF Sea King helicopters.

Dyfed-Powys Police said three people needed treatment for minor injuries.

The alarm was raised in the early hours after more than five inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Residents described scenes of devastation and carnage, but the community pulled together to provide food and shelter, and help the more vulnerable.

Resident Sam Ebenezer, in Talybont, told the BBC: "The amount of water is just amazing, it's flowing from higher ground, incredible scenes, it's devastating seeing close friends' housing being soaked all the way through."

A Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said emergency services were called at around 3am and there was "a large amount of water and a heavy current" running through Riverside Caravan Park.

Other rescues took place throughout the day at Aberystwyth Holiday Village in Penparcau, Sea Rivers Caravan Park in Ynyslas, Borth and Mill House Caravan Park in Dol-y-Bont, Borth.

A volunteer RNLI crew, who had launched on to the River Lery after a request from the coastguard, encountered difficulties.

A spokesman said: "The force of the river current, with the amount of debris in the water, made returning to their original launch site too dangerous and once everyone had been evacuated, the crew decided to secure the lifeboat and were airlifted to safety by helicopter.

"Those rescued were taken to Borth lifeboat station where they were given blankets and tea and assessed by paramedics."

Scores of volunteers from the RNLI - who formed part of the Wales flood rescue team - had come from all over the country.

Environment Agency Wales has five Flood Warnings in place for the Teifi at Lampeter and Llanybydder, the Dyfi Valley and Machynlleth, the Ystwyth at Rhydyfelin and Llanfarian, the Rheidol at Aberystwyth and the River Clarach at Llangorwen.

An agency spokesman said most rivers have now peaked but there remained concern about parts of the Rheidol which is still rising, and the river Fathew in Bryncrug.

Paul Mott, senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said that 81mm (more than three inches) of rain fell in the 24 hours to 7am today at Trawscoed, Ceredigion, while some areas in that region would have had 150mm (more than six inches) over the same period.

The average amount of rain for the whole month of June in that area is nearer 70mm (just under three inches).

"That's what's caused the problem, all the rainwater has funnelled into the rivers, causing flooding in river valleys," he said.

"We've seen the worst of the rainfall in the flood-hit area, with maybe just some showers in the next few days," he said.

"River levels are still pretty high, so there could still be some problems with flooding from the remainder of the rain that has fallen over the last 36 hours, but the lack of significant further rainfall should alleviate the situation."

Police said later that a bridge in Talybont and another in the village of Goginan had sustained some damage in the floods.

They would need to be inspected and assessed, but were not thought to be in imminent danger of collapse, a spokeswoman said.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links