Ceredigion Floods - The Aftermath

Welsh Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant visited some of the areas of North Ceredigion most badly affected by flooding  this afternoon and spoke to residents. The tour, with Ceredigion Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn, took in Parc yr Onnen in Llanbadarn, Aberystwyth Holiday Village and Talybont. 

The village square in Talybont, a place where the rivers Ceulan and Leri meet, is the scene of the worst residential devastation in the county. The village was lucky to escape without loss of life when two walls collapsed under the force of water.

The lower photo shows a workman, secured to the bank with a hook, working in the River Ceulan to reconnect a water pipe next to a collapsed wall. The top photo shows a typical scene in the village (and also at Parc yr Onnen in Llanbadarn) of ruined belongings piled up on the pavement. 

It may be a cliche, but the villagers I spoke to showed tremendous cheerfulness and community spirit in the face of everything and were full of praise for the local emergency services who had helped them. The Llew Gwyn pub had pitched in by providing free food and were generally acting as a community centre.

In Aberystwyth, Penglais School had been used as a rest centre yesterday and dealt with 130 people. 70 Council workers worked through the weekend to help stricken residents and to keep the County's infrastructure going. At the height of the flood the River Rheidol was flowing at a rate of 280 tons per second.

Meanwhile, in a developing story, 600 people were this afternoon evacuated from the village of Pennal, a few miles west of Machynlleth, after cracks appeared in a reservoir dam. The dam is along the river Pennal which feeds into the Dyfi.

Ystwyth Medical Surgery will be operating from the old Countryside Council for Wales offices near Penrhyncoch whilst their own premises are being cleaned up. They can still be phoned on their usual number. 

Borth Animalarium is having a clean-up starting tomorrow morning  (Monday) at 8.30am.

Further update 11/6/12
* Welsh Government Environment Minister John Griffiths visited Talybont and Dolybont today to see the flood damage.

* B&Q, Halfords, Carpetright and Currys at Parc y Llyn Retail Park are all closed until further notice due to flood damage.

* Ceredigion Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn has launched an appeal fund to help flood victims. Details here.

* Nat West Bank in Owain Glyndwr Square, Aberystwyth is also running an appeal. To contribute to this you can drop in or contact Mel Blaney on 01970 - 627337.

* Donations of cleaning and re-decorating materials (the most needed items by flood victims at the moment) are also being accepted by Alexanders Estate Agents in Terrace Road. They will also be distributing the money from the Nat West appeal fund. The contact person is Lauren Sarreus-Webb on 01970 - 636010.

* A jumble sale is being held to raise money on Saturday at the Bandstand on Aberystwyth Prom. Donations for this will be accepted there from 9am. The jumble sale starts at 11am. 

* The Aberystwyth Flood Victims Facebook page for updates on these initiatives is here

The Aberystwyth Floods

Aberystwyth has been getting back to normal after yesterday’s floods which were the worst in memory.

The flooding around the town reached a peak around high tide at 12.10 and was concentrated around the Parc y Llyn and Llanbadarn areas. Photos can be seen here. Whilst it is fairly common for Blaendolau playing fields, next to the river Rheidol, to flood, no-one could remember water submerging the main road from Penparcau to Llanbadarn.

As news spread, and with traffic around the town at a standstill, scores of local people walked and cycled up to Parc y Llyn to have a look at the surreal scene. Morrisons and other shops on the retail estate were forced to close, but the hardest hit non-residential property seemed to be Ystwyth Surgery which looked to have sustained considerable flood damage. Arrangements are being made for surgeries to be held elsewhere next week.

Whilst it was a sightseeing opportunity for many people, for residents of the Parc yr Onnen estate in Llanbadarn the situation was much grimmer, with the ground floors of an estimated 30 houses flooded and some residents having to find accommodation elsewhere. Residents in other nearby housing estates anxiously watched the rising water. Aberystwyth Holiday Village was also badly hit, with touring caravans and campers having to abandon their vehicles.

Various agencies worked together throughout the day to pump water out of  affected homes and to protect those at risk. The agencies included Ceredigion Council, the Fire Service, the Police, Dwr Cymru, the Environment Agency and the RNLI.

Meanwhile, further north, there had already been serious flooding around Llandre, Talybont and Penrhyncoch where quick action by the emergency services, already well reported by the BBC, had undoubtedly saved lives. Pictures of the floods at Talybont can be seen here (thanks to Tanwen Haf).

One reason being cited for the severity of the flooding at Parc y Llyn at least is the development that has taken place in recent years on the Rheidol flood plain which has left flood water with nowhere to drain away. However that doesn't explain the serious flooding in other areas.

Ceredigion Council has appealed to the Westminster government for financial assistance to re-build roads damaged in the floods, particularly those to the north of Aberystwyth.

The Council will be waiving their usual collection charges for bulky goods and will be collecting ruined carpets and furniture for nothing.

A Facebook page for flood victims is here, with lots of people offering help.
Council advice for flood victims can be found here.
Ceredigion Council's contact number for information and the reporting of problems is 01545 - 572572. 
Information about road closures can be found here.

Weather forecasters were saying that, although some further rain was predicted, with tides set to reduce, they did not anticipate further problems once the water had receded.


Traffic Wardens back in Ceredigion

Today is the day the traffic wardens (or rather Civil Enforcement Officers) return to the streets of Ceredigion.

From the day the police withdrew their service (giving, it should be said, fair warning after Ceredigion Council had declined their request for many years), it's been something of a social experiment. Maybe students will study it. Those people who have always resented traffic wardens and said people should be allowed to police themselves have had their way.

In that sense, it's been useful. Now we, and the many people outside Ceredigion who've been showing an amused interest (as can be seen in the Daily Telegraph cartoon above), know what life's like without parking control. And the conclusion is that it doesn't work very well at all. OK, the sky didn't fall in, but it hasn't been good. Disabled people have found their parking spaces blocked. Pavements in some streets have been made impassable by cars parking on them. Buses and lorries have occasionally been unable to pass down the narrower streets because of cars parked on the corners. The belief that people being able to park anywhere will help trade hasn't quite worked because what's been gained by people being able to nip into a shop whilst parked right outside has been lost by the short-term parking places being full of people parked in them all day.

Last week, warning notices were being placed on cars illegally parked. This week it's the real thing - a £50 or £70 fine, depending on the exact offence, with a 50% discount if paid within 14 days, like most other places. Sundays and Bank Holidays too. This is  administered by the Wales Penalty Processing Partnership, which also services eight other Welsh Councils. 

I'm no authoritarian, but some rules actually are helpful and I'm looking forward to the streets becoming more orderly places once again where everyone understands and accepts the rules to the benefit of all of us. 

There are certainly some places in the towns of Ceredigion where yellow lines could be reduced. However work on that has been suspended whilst council officers have had to spend their time jumping through the legal hoops required to take over parking control. Once that work is complete they can hopefully move on to other things and Ceredigion's interesting adventure into the unknown will be over.

If you live in Ceredigion and you see a traffic warden, be nice to them. They'll probably be the most popular wardens in the country for a while.