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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border