Hundreds return home after dam leak evacuation


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The Independent Online

More than 600 people had to be evacuated from a Welsh village yesterday over fears that a dam may burst following the weekend's torrential rainfall.

The evacuation of Pennal near Machynlleth, Powys, came as hundreds of people in the Aberystwyth area returned to their homes to count the cost of Saturday's "unprecedented" deluge, which swept through villages and caravan parks causing hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of damage.

Last night, residents in Pennal were allowed back to their homes after authorities allowed a controlled release of water from a derelict quarry. Gwyn Jones, of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We've been able to undertake two releases of water from the reservoir. We were closely monitoring the level of the river, and everything was satisfactory after those two releases.

"Subsequently, contractors and the landowner have created a permanent channel in the reservoir which is allowing the water to dissipate naturally."

The flooding was described as an "unprecedented event" by the Environment Agency of Wales. Villages were flooded by 5ft (1.5m) of water with record-high river levels in parts of Aberystwyth. Twice as much rain fell in 24 hours than normally falls in the whole of June.

More than 1,000 people had been evacuated and 150 residents and holidaymakers in caravan parks had to be rescued. A number of caravans and tents in the Aberystwyth Holiday Park remained cut off from land yesterday.

The North-east of England was also affected by the downpours yesterday. The Durham Regatta was cancelled because of dangerously high water levels on the river Wear.

A spokesman for the Met Office said there would be no let-up in the rain until at least next week, with severe-weather warnings issued for the South of England and Scotland. Heavy downpours were expected today. The rain is expected finally to give way to sunshine towards the end of next week.

The Environment Agency posted 18 flood alerts yesterday, with four in Wales, 10 in the Midlands and four in the North of England.