Storm Dennis: Police declare major incident after Wales flooding

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Police have declared a major incident after flooding and landslides in south Wales, as Storm Dennis batters the UK.

Efforts are under way to rescue people stranded after water rushed into their homes in Crickhowell, Powys, while some properties in Monmouthshire and Neath have been evacuated.

Homes have also been flooded in Herefordshire, where one resident said the storm had hit “like a tornado”.

More than 300 flood warnings have been issued across the UK.

There are currently four severe flood warnings in England and two in Wales, which mean there is a danger to life.

On Sunday morning, the Met Office issued its first red rain warning – the highest tier – since 2015.

Sarah Bridge, 55, compared Storm Dennis to a tornado and said water had flooded her home in Pontrilas in Herefordshire despite specialist flood doors, reaching her knees.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “The kitchen is completely flooded, I can hear things floating about downstairs.”

The red rain warning in south Wales, which lasted until 11:00 GMT, advised residents to “take action” to keep safe from dangerous weather and avoid travel.

Amy Price, 20, said her family were trapped in the upstairs of their home in Llanover, Monmouthshire, because water on the ground floor had reached as high as the light switches.

“The river started rising about 1am and at 3am it started coming into the house,” she said.

“We started sweeping the water away and then at 6am the river started coming over the bank.”

Wind gusts reached 91mph on Saturday, according to the Met Office, while 142mm of rainfall was recorded at the Cray Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

Jessica Falk Perlman, who is on holiday with her family in Crickhowell, Powys, to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday, told BBC Radio 5 Live that firefighters woke them at 04:00 GMT to tell them they were being evacuated because the River Usk had burst its banks.

But water quickly came flooding into their holiday home, forcing them upstairs and stalling their evacuation.

“The door of our house burst open and water came flooding in right up to the top of the stairs which was quite nerve wracking at the time,” she said.

She added: “It’s well over the front door of the house, it’s flooded all the way up to the ceiling.”

In Pontypridd, bar worker Jack Jones said he had to leave work on Saturday evening as water from the River Taff entered the bar.

“It came from nowhere,” he said. “To come down this morning and see it like this is quite shocking.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge that the UK government was “stepping up its response” to extreme weather conditions.

He said it had put £2.4bn into defences over a six-year spending period up until next year, and would allocate £4bn for the next six-year period.

Of the flood warnings, more than 200 apply in England,more than 70 in Wales, and more than 40 in Scotland – where two people had to be rescued after their car was swept off the road near Newcastleton.

In York, the Environment Agency has predicted the River Ouse could come close to record levels seen in 2000.

Properties were flooded in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, on Sunday morning – and residents were urged to take “extreme care” by the area’s Environment Agency manager.


Across the UK road, rail and air travellers also face disruption.

About 170 flights were cancelled as of Sunday morning, affecting at least 25,000 passengers.

The storm has caused disruption at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Southend, Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick airports over the weekend.

Rail services have been suspended across south Wales, and in parts of England and Scotland, according to National Rail.

Highways England said strong winds had closed part of the M48 Severn Bridge eastbound and the QEII bridge at the Dartford Crossing, while flooding closed A-roads in South Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.

Amber warnings for rain and yellow warnings for wind are in place for most of the country into Sunday evening.

This means flooding could cause a danger to life, power cuts are expected and there is a good chance transport links will be impacted.

On Saturday, the body of a man was pulled from the sea off the Kent coast.

The man was declared dead at the scene in Herne Bay after emergency services were called at 12:15 GMT. Kent Police are not linking his death to Storm Dennis.

The force said it was not known how the man had entered the water and his death was “not being treated as suspicious”.

A second body was found by the RNLI at about 13:00 GMT on Saturday after a seven-hour search in “rough seas” for a man who fell from a fuel tanker off the coast of Margate.

In other developments on Saturday:

  • The Army helped residents shore up flood defences in Ilkley and Calder in West Yorkshire
  • EasyJet cancelled about 350 flights over the weekend – almost 100 of these are to and from London’s Gatwick Airport
  • About 60 flights were grounded at London’s Heathrow Airport. Most of them are British Airways
  • Rail passengers across the country were urged to check before travelling, with delays and cancellations expected on certain routes
  • For more information, check the BBC Weather website and your BBC Local Radio station for regular updates

Last weekend Ciara brought as much as 184mm of rain and gusts reaching 97mph. It also caused hundreds of homes to be flooded and left more than 500,000 people without power.

But experts have warned Storm Dennis could cause more flooding damage, as already saturated ground is met with a “perfect storm” of heavy rain, strong winds and melting snow.

Visitors battle strong winds during a thunderstorm at the annual Whitby Regatta, August 2019

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Weather warnings guide

  • YellowSevere weather possible, plan ahead, travel may be disrupted

  • AmberIncreased likelihood of impact, eg travel delays, power cuts

Source: Met Office


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