Storm Dennis: 2 Years On

Written by on 16th February 2022

As Storm Dudley crosses the UK today to be followed on Friday by the more fierce Storm Eunice, local people are recalling the disaster brought two years ago by Storm Dennis the worst winter storm for forty years which set new record river levels, flooded nearly 1500 homes and businesses and damaged countless bridges and other infrastructure.

Since then RCT Council has spent over £13m on upgrading over 50 culverts & flood alleviation schemes with 50 more under construction or in developed, and over £20m has been spent repairing bridges, river walls & other infrastructure with work due to start on more shortly – according to RCT Council Leader Cllr Andrew Morgan in an exclusive interview with GTFM.

Cllr Morgan also told us he shared local frustration at the length of time its taken to produce the 19 highly detailed local flooding reports which are legally required and hopes the Welsh Government will be prepared to review the procedure in the light of this experience.

Yesterday, South Wales Central MS Heledd Fychan asked in the Senedd if the First Minister would help at risk communities by supporting the establishment of a Welsh Flood Forum similar to one in Scotland.

Mark Drakeford said that an independent committee already exists in Wales but he’d be open to further discussions on how best to support at risk communities from future flooding.

In response the Plaid Cymru member said the First Minister was referring to the Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee, a Welsh Flood Forum would work directly with communities, providing immediate support when floods take place as well as supporting at risk communities so they feel informed and empowered to reduce their flood risk – as she feels Residents don’t feel confident their homes and businesses would be safe if a similar event were to happen in the future.”

South Wales Central MS Heledd Fychan said:

“I’m pleased that the First Minister is open to further discussions on how best to support at risk communities.

Whilst he mentioned that an independent committee does exists here in Wales, a Welsh Flood Forum is different and would work directly with communities, providing immediate suppory when floods take place as well as supporting at risk communities to feel supported, informed and empowered to reduce their flood risk.

This is something that I will continue in to pursue in the Senedd but with heavy rain and yellow weather warnings in place for the whole of Wales, communities need this support now.  

There has been too much talking, and too little action. Flooding is a national emergency and should be treated as such.”

At the same time the Welsh Conservatives have reiterated their calls for a National Flood Agency. Their Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS saidthey’re calling on the Labour Welsh Government to implement a National Flood Agency in order to work with local communities to coordinate flood risk management, respond to flooding and carry out independent inquiries.

Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said:

“The reality of the situation is that many people in Wales fear for their homes as flooding is becoming an ever-growing threat with the Labour Government taking little meaningful action.

“Years of empty rhetoric and little action in tackling climate change from Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay have resulted in time wasted and homes threatened.

“We are two years on from Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, and organisations such as Natural Resources Wales, are having increased responsibility with no reflection in its funding, resulting in understaffing.

“Welsh Conservatives are therefore calling on the Labour Government to implement a National Flood Agency in order to work with local communities to coordinate flood risk management, responses to flooding and carry out independent inquiries into flooding events.”

In a joint statement Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones and Pontypridd MS Mick Antoiw said:-

“Today marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating floods which had a huge impact on communities across Pontypridd and Taff Ely.

February 2020 saw areas across Pontypridd hit by the worst flooding we have experienced in many decades, with residential properties and businesses in Nantgarw, Taff’s Well, Trallwn, Pontypridd town, Hawthorn, Rhydyfelin, Trehafod and Treforest badly hit by the floods, particularly as a result of the River Taff’s overflow.

None of us will ever forget the scenes of devastation and destruction that the flooding brought and we also know that for so many residents and businesses, the recovery effort still continues.

The mark that the flooding left on us will likely be felt for some time yet despite this, and the constant challenges that coronavirus has presented, we are seeing progress thanks to the strength of the communities across our area and the work of a range of agencies.

Since February 2020 we have held numerous meetings open to residents and local business owners, most recently this month, where we have openly discussed the challenges and opportunities for support available. We have worked with RCT, NRW and Welsh Government to progress the issues that have arisen and a considerable amount of progress has been made on repairs, clearance and replacing infrastructure and more work is under way.  There is still more to do and continuing to work with agencies to maximise the protection and support to local people remains a priority for us.

Insurance has been a major concern for many people and we have been able to help individual house-holds and businesses with a range of insurance problems.  We continue to engage with the insurance industry to help ensure that all those affected by flooding have access to affordable insurance.

In the immediate aftermath of the flooding we immediately organised a crowdfunded relief fund for their constituents which surpassed its initial £5,000 target to reach more than £35,000.

Working in partnership with the Coalfield Regeneration Trust and the Moondance Charity we also secured the additional sum of £100,000 to provide additional assistance to nearly 100 families whose homes were most badly affected.

Our Flooding Report which we made available to residents outlined our immediate response, key concerns, ward-specific concerns, and recommendations for the future, including the provision of flood defences for certain properties, many of which we continue to work on today.

In recent weeks we’ve also seen RCT Council publish their Section 19 Flood Investigation Reports, which we welcome.  These reports are an important base to build upon, and given recent wet weather we appreciate that concerns over flooding remain a very real anxiety for many people.

The reports also highlight just how extreme a weather event Storm Dennis was, but we know that weather patterns across the world are changing as a result of climate change.  This brings hard choices for governments everywhere, including here in Wales and we will continue to champion policies that reduce the impact of climate change.

We remain committed to helping to ensure that everyone across our communities are as well prepared as possible for future adverse weather events and we continue to work closely with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, Welsh Government, Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales and local Councillors to support people whose homes and livelihoods were impacted.”

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