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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.

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“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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Cheesy names for Folly Farm’s five Humboldt Penguin Chicks

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FOLLY FARM has announced the arrival of five new baby Humboldt penguin chicks—the first penguin chicks to hatch at the zoo since 2021!

Keepers have resumed breeding Humboldt penguins as part of a managed European Breeding Programme for the species, facilitated by their membership with the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). These chicks are the first to arrive at the zoo in three years!

Humboldt penguins are classified as a vulnerable species, facing numerous threats in the wild. Breeding had been on hold at Folly Farm, and the keepers are thrilled to be able to breed again.

The delightful new penguin chicks are growing rapidly and are snug in their nest boxes, cared for by both parents who alternate feeding duties while the other enjoys a swim in the pool. Chicks can double or even triple in weight every couple of days! In a few weeks, they will leave their nests and be taken by experienced keepers to their Penguin Nursery facility, where they will spend a few weeks learning to feed on whole fish and swim in their small ‘baby pool’, before graduating to the main pool with the rest of the colony.

The naming theme for this season is cheese, with the chicks being named Mozzarella, Camembert, Cheddar, Halloumi, and Gorgonzola. Who doesn’t love cheese?

Penguin Keeper and Assistant Zoo Manager Caz Davies shared her excitement: “We’re so excited to have chicks again. Each breeding season, keepers choose a catchy naming theme to easily identify the birds. Penguin chicks can’t be sexed until they’re a bit older and feather samples can be taken, so we’ll just have to wait for a gender reveal for now!”

‘Mozzarella’ was the first to hatch on 30 March to parents, ‘Magnum’ and ‘Feast’, followed by ‘Camembert’ on 2 April, whose parents are ‘Perci’ and ‘Puffy’. ‘Cheddar’ arrived soon after on 5 May to ‘Whippy’ and ‘Pippy’, and ‘Halloumi’ hatched on 10 May to first-time parents ‘Einstein’ and ‘Darwin’. ‘Gorgonzola’ is the youngest chick and hatched on 14 May to ‘Popple’ and ‘Pudding’.

Penguin Coast is currently home to 22 Humboldt and 14 Macaroni penguins. Guests won’t be able to see the newest arrivals quite yet—but keep watching Folly Farm’s website and social platforms for updates!

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Anticipation builds for more Northern Lights as solar activity peaks

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IN the wake of a mesmerising display of the aurora borealis last weekend, experts predict further celestial spectacles are imminent due to heightened solar activity. A substantial sunspot cluster, responsible for recent intense solar flares, is expected to face Earth again in approximately two weeks, potentially sparking more geomagnetic storms and Northern Lights displays.

Scientists at the Met Office, including space weather forecaster Krista Hammond, report that this activity is part of the approaching solar maximum, a peak phase in the Sun’s 11-year cycle marked by increased magnetic upheavals and sunspot production. This cycle, the 25th since systematic observations began in 1755, is proving more vigorous than anticipated.

Last Saturday’s geomagnetic storm, categorised as a G5—the highest alert level by both the Met Office and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—was the most severe since 2003. Triggered by multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the storm disrupted high-frequency radio communications globally and posed challenges to various satellite operations.

The aftermath of the storm highlighted our vulnerability to space weather. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites experienced significant strain, leading to voltage spikes, as reported by the European Space Agency (ESA). The added radiation also disturbed GPS signals, impacting everything from aviation—necessitating the reroute of a transatlantic flight—to precision farming, with reported disruptions in GPS-dependent agricultural machinery.

On Earth, the heightened electrical currents tested power grid robustness worldwide. In New Zealand, some circuits were temporarily shut down as a precaution, while the UK’s electricity network operators implemented measures like extra back-up generation to manage potential voltage fluctuations.

This heightened solar activity brings not only stunning natural displays but also underscores the critical importance of preparedness for space weather impacts. The UK government ranks extreme space weather as a significant threat on its national risk register, citing potential severe consequences such as widespread power outages and infrastructure damage.

According to Sean Elvidge, a professor in space environment at the University of Birmingham, the recent storm serves as a reminder of the potentially devastating effects of more powerful storms, like the historical Carrington Event of 1859, which disrupted telegraph systems and caused widespread fires.

As the Sun continues its active phase, the role of advanced forecasting and international cooperation in mitigating space weather effects becomes increasingly crucial. Agencies like NOAA and the Met Office are enhancing their monitoring capabilities, ensuring that critical infrastructure and governments worldwide are forewarned of impending solar storms, thus safeguarding both modern technology and the daily lives dependent on it.

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Gething crisis: Tory Leader signals no-confidence motion in First Minister

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IN a bold assertion that could intensify the political instability in Wales, the Conservative leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, has indicated that a motion of no confidence against First Minister Vaughan Gething is increasingly likely. This comes in the wake of recent revelations and internal disputes within Welsh Labour that have put Mr. Gething’s leadership under severe scrutiny.

The controversy escalated following the dismissal of Hannah Blythyn, the minister for social partnership, who was accused by Mr. Gething of leaking confidential text messages to the press—an allegation she firmly denies. The leaked texts were reportedly from a pandemic-era group chat, which Mr. Gething admitted to deleting, details of which were first reported by Nation.Cymru.

This incident is part of a broader series of challenges facing Mr. Gething, including scrutiny over the substantial donations made to his leadership campaign. It was disclosed that his campaign had received £250,000, with a notable £200,000 contribution from a company led by a businessman previously convicted of environmental crimes. Mr. Gething announced he would be returning £31,000 to Labour from the campaign funds amidst this controversy.

In crisis: First Minister, Vaughan Gething

Adding to the upheaval, Mr. Davies criticised the First Minister’s leadership on BBC Radio Wales, questioning Mr. Gething’s transparency and ability to govern effectively. He emphasised the urgent need for Mr. Gething to justify his actions, particularly the sacking of Ms. Blythyn, to restore public trust in the government.

On Thursday, in an interview with ITV Wales, Mr. Gething defended his decision, highlighting the importance of trust and confidentiality among ministers and maintaining that his team was aligned on government priorities. He underscored the challenges faced by his administration and the need to focus on issues crucial to the Welsh populace.

Despite the turmoil, any formal motion of no confidence is not expected to be tabled immediately, owing to procedural and logistical considerations. With Labour holding half of the seats in the Senedd, the success of such a motion would hinge on cross-party support or abstentions from within the Labour ranks.

As tensions mount, the political landscape in Cardiff Bay remains fraught with uncertainty, with the potential for significant shifts in governance depending on the developments in the coming weeks.

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