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County flooding chaos follows ‘biblical’ storm

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storm special 15GALE FORCE winds coupled with unusually high tides have caused widespread flooding along the mid and West Wales coast in the past week.

Areas of Fishguard, Cardigan, Aberaeron, Amroth and Laugharne have all been affected.

Dyfed-Powys Police posted on Twitter that it had closed a number of roads in Amroth, Newgale, Aberystwyth and Borth. Drivers were also advised to avoid coastal areas and told not to attempt driving through flood water.

Rebecca Evans AM has welcomed the news that Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies AM, has ordered a review into the recent flooding.

Mrs Evans said: “I wrote to the minister on Saturday asking how the Welsh Government intends to review the recent flooding, so I am pleased that

the minister has responded so quickly by announcing that he has asked Natural Resources Wales to carry out a swift review with the immediate priority being to identify and assess any damage so that repair work can be prioritised.”

Mrs Evans continued: “My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the flooding. I am grateful to the staff of Natural Resources Wales, local authority staff, and the emergency services across the region for the way in which they have sought to prepare for the flooding, and keep everyone informed and safe during what has been a very tough few days for people living in coastal areas.

“I am also grateful to the many community groups, volunteers and good neighbours who have pulled together to offer shelter and assistance to residents and business owners affected by flooding along the mid and West Wales coast.”

“It is important that repair work is completed as soon as possible, before the start of the main tourist season in the spring.”

storm special 10AM Joyce Watson met with Fishguard residents and Pembrokeshire Council’s chief highways officer to discuss the on going situation this week. Councillor Pat Davies took Mrs Watson to the worst affected area of Lower Fishguard to speak to residents.

Mrs Watson said: “Mr Randal Davies, of Bridge Street, said it is the worst flooding he has seen in 47 years.

“In Quay Street, Mr and Mrs Jackson told us it is the worst storm for 63 years. Their house was flooded and Mrs Jackson, who relies on her stair lift, was stranded upstairs when the electricity was knocked out. Thankfully, the fire service and local contractors responded quickly, and the heating and power is back on.

“It is heartening that neighbours are rallying to help and support each other – strong community spirit makes all the difference at a time like this.”

On Tuesday, a specialist team from Natural Resources Wales started work at Newgale Beach, to clear the Brandy Brook from sand and shingle, which has completely blocked the brook following days of extremely high tides.

THE WORK was in conjunction with Pembrokeshire County Council, who has also started work to clear the coastal road at Newgale, which has been closed since last Friday after waves left rocks and debris blocking access.

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Natural Resources Wales teams are also continuing work to clear large volumes of shingle and debris from the Tresilley Stream on Amroth Beach.

The Royal Voluntary Service has also asked members of the public to call on their older friends, family and neighbours to check that they are safe and have everything they need.

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “Severe weather can have a devastating effect on the health and safety of older people, so it’s vital that friends, family and neighbours check in on older people in their town and offer to help where they can. Simple things like making sure older people have enough food in the house and offering someone a lift to a doctor’s appointment or to the shops can make a huge difference during the inclement weather.”

Royal Voluntary Service volunteers will continue to provide services in the local area through the bad weather, as well as assisting the emergency services team by offering refreshments and comfort to people affected by the storms, floods and power cuts.

Woman rescued from swollen river

A YOUNG woman had to be rescued from a river in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, January 9.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called to rescue the woman from Freeman’s Way near the County Hall Offices at around 1.14am. It comes as the Met Office put out another weather warning for most of Wales following more heavy rain.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 1.09am to an incident near County Hall, Haverfordwest.

“An emergency ambulance was dispatched to the scene, and a woman in her 20s was taken to Withybush General Hospital.”

Charity issues urgent warning following extreme weather

THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY Council is issuing a warning in Pembrokeshire following extreme weather conditions that has led to flooding in many areas. The charity is urging all residents whose homes have been affected by high water levels to take care when cleaning up, especially around electricity which can cause further damage or put people at risk. Water and electricity can be a lethal combination, and with more rain on its way the Electrical Safety Council wants all homeowners to be aware of the risks of combining the two. Wiring and electrical appliances that have been affected by water can at best stop working and at worst cause an electric shock.

storm special 1

“When faced with flooding damage it can be tempting to jump straight in as it’s natural to want things back to normal as quickly as possible”, explains Penny Walshe from the Electrical Safety Council, “but it is important to make sure your home is electrically safe before you do anything else.

“If the water damage to electrics is relatively minor and caused by clean water, i.e. from a burst water pipe or tank, then the cables will need to be dried and affected electrical accessories such as sockets, switches and plugs will need to be replaced. But if there is major flooding damage caused by contaminated water, i.e. sewage, then there is a chance that affected parts of the house will need to be rewired. Take a step back and call in a registered electrician to assess the damage before you try and fix anything else.”

The Electrical Safety Council is urging homeowners affected by floods to follow these top tips to deal with the damage quickly and safely:

  • Don’t touch any sources of electricity – such as switches or appliances – when standing in flood water.
  • Ask your supplier to turn off your electricity and don’t turn it back on until it is safe to do so.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment affected by flood water has been checked by an electrician before you use it again.
  • Ask a registered electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)* to check the condition of electrical wiring in your home.
  • If your home needs to be rewired, ask about raising the height of newly installed electrical equipment above any future expected flood level.

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Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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Health volunteers thanked for incredible support

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THERE’S no more fitting time than National Volunteering Week to say thank you to all of the volunteers within Hywel Dda University Health Board, management have said in a press release.

‘Volunteering for Health’ is the Hywel Dda UHB’s volunteer service and has covered the three counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for the past 11 years.

During this period, volunteers have carried out 376,000 hours of volunteering and in 2019 carried out 56,000 hours.

At the start of the year prior to COVID, 400 registered volunteers were providing a range of services to support patients and improve their experience whilst in hospitals, these include; library trolley service, shop trolley service, pharmacy runners, meet and greet, patient befrienders, gardeners and many other roles.

Lisa Gostling, Director of Workforce and OD said: “Volunteers are an integral part of our service and it’s hard to think that only seven months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of volunteering within Hywel Dda together at Bronwydd Hall.

“It’s important at this moment in time to recognise that some of our long standing volunteers can’t be with us and we look forward to welcoming you back to the organisation soon.

“And also to recognise those volunteers who have changed what they do to support our patients during these particularly difficult times.

“So I want to just say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, your generosity and your kindness. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Take care and stay safe.”

David Fretwell. Volunteering for Health Manager, added his thanks for the overwhelming response from volunteers old and new to an unprecedented situation: “This year has been unprecedented for the volunteer service with the onset of the COVID pandemic and has dramatically affected the way we have involved volunteers.

“We had an amazing response from the community wishing to help us through volunteering with over 600 offers of support.

“To help manage the numbers of people offering to help we set up a ‘Volunteer Pool’ and are extremely mindful where we can place volunteers for their safety.

“We have now deployed volunteers to support the health board’s transport department as drivers; we also have gardeners, virtual volunteers and drivers delivering food parcels from food banks to some of our most vulnerable patients in the community.

“We appreciate the fantastic support you have provided prior to COVID and through the pandemic. Thank you for your incredible support.”

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Inflatable kayak group rescued by the Coastguard

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A GROUP of people in an inflatable kayak had to be rescued by the Coastguard on Saturday (May 30) evening.

HM Coastguard Dale said they were “very lucky people”.

They had been exploring to the north of Skomer Island when they got caught in the tidal race of Jack Sound and ended up off Gateholm.

A passing Dale sailing vessel helped them to the Little and Broad Haven Lifeboat team before they were transferred to Angle RNLI to navigate Jack Sound.

The casualties were received by HM Coastguard Dale at Martin’s Haven and given safety advice.

The group had no lifejackets on and were not wearing wetsuits, despite the cold water.

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