Council leader says people ‘should not have to live like this’ after devastating flooding
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Residents and businesses impacted by repeated flooding “should not have to live like this”, the leader of Carmarthenshire Council has said.
Cllr Emlyn Dole was speaking in the wake of yet another deluge last Friday and Saturday which caused disruption across South West Wales.
He said his thoughts were with those affected – and he called on flooding to become a strategic national priority.
The Welsh Government said it has invested more than £390 million helping to manage flood risk between 2016 and 2021.
Five inches of rain fell at Llyn-y-Fan, Carmarthenshire, between 6am last Friday and 8am on Saturday. The average February rainfall across South Wales is just under four inches.
More intense rainfall is associated with a warming climate.
Cllr Dole said River Towy levels were “precariously close” to those during Storm Callum in October 2018, which devastated many businesses and homes.
Communities by the Teifi and Cothi rivers, he said, also suffered over the weekend.
“It’s plainly evident that storms causing river flooding are becoming more frequent and they are becoming more intense,” said Cllr Dole.
Storms, he said, which were once considered one in a 100-year events seemed to have become “four in one-and-a-half-year” events.
Addressing fellow executive board members, Cllr Dole said the cycle of devastation and clean-up could not continue.
“We cannot ignore the frequency and severity of these floods,” he said.
The Plaid Cymru leader outlined the preparation work carried out by the council and other agencies ahead of last week’s storm.
This included the setting up of an emergency tactical command centre, the potential use of temporary rest centres, work on the ground from highways and flood defence teams, and the deployment of water pumps and sand bags.
Several roads had to be closed near the Towy and Teifi, due to the flooding. Bridges were inspected after the waters receded and were found to be safe.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the lead flood protection agency in Wales, maintaining defences and building new ones.
Cllr Dole claimed NRW was “under pressure”.
Plaid Cymru leader and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MS, Adam Price, described the disruption caused over the weekend as devastating.
He claimed there was a lack of sufficient funding and investment in flood prevention at a national level.
Mr Price said: “We urgently need a commitment of extra resources, personnel, and financial aid to the communities most impacted by the floods.”
Carmarthen Town West councillor Emlyn Schiavone said the situation at The Quay and Pensarn, Carmarthen, continued to be a “major concern”.
Cllr Schiavone said businesses at these locations were flooded again over the weekend, despite attempts to keep the water at bay.
He said options for mitigating future flooding were being looked at.
A Welsh Government spokesman said it had allocated £11.1 million to support councils and individuals affected by flooding over the past 12 months.
It also expects to spend £55 million on flood risk management projects during the current financial year, plus a further £21.5 million to help councils repair damaged roads and bridges.
“We know major flooding incidents are devastating for communities,” said the spokesman.
“We will continue to pro-actively manage and respond to flood risk across Wales.”