Roads and railways closed as floods hit South Wales

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The Independent Online
TORRENTIAL rain brought chaos to South Wales and south-west England yesterday with rail lines and scores of roads blocked by surging floodwater.

Flood alerts were still in force last night on nearly a dozen major rivers, swollen to danger levels by four inches of rain, bringing to a close the wettest November in Wales for 22 years.

Yet despite November's floods, 1992 does not look like reaching the average annual rainfall figure unless about 300 millimetres (12 ins) fall this month.

Weather experts in Cardiff said there was more heavy rain to come and blamed the floods on drought-hardened ground unable to absorb rain after a three-year dry spell. The National Rivers Authority also issued 28 flood alerts for rivers in the South-west.

The Exeter to Barnstaple railway was blocked at Yeoford, Devon, and there were flood warnings on the Thames at Purley and its tributaries, including the Pinn, Frays, Colne, Colnebrook and parts of the Mole and Hogsmill.

In South Wales, schools were disrupted and pensioners evacuated when water swamped homes in Mid Glamorgan and Gwent.

Among the Welsh rivers with red alerts were the Ogmore, Ebbw, Sir Howy, Llyd, Taff at Pontypridd, Rhymney, Cynon at Mountain Ash, Rhondda, Lougher at Llanelli and Ewenny.

The AA said that surface water had made driving hazardous on many roads and warned drivers to reduce speed. Farmers were also warned to move livestock from low-lying land.

Sixteen pupils and six staff from Llangatwg Comprehensive School, Neath, West Glamorgan, were affected by chlorine and sulphur dioxide fumes after flood water got into the swimming pool boiler room and mixed with chemicals stored there.

At Tredegar, Gwent, around 100 homes were evacuated after floods of up to four feet, and homes at Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan, were evacuated after the river Taff burst its banks. British Rail services in Mid Glamorgan were badly hit, with four branch lines severely disrupted.

In Gloucestershire, the river Severn burst its banks causing road chaos and widespread flooding. A 25-mile stretch of the river between Gloucester and the Severn Bridge overflowed with the Lydney area worst affected.