A year on from St Asaph flooding disaster

Published date: 27 November 2013 |
Published by: Dean Jones
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TODAY marks the first anniversary of the devastating flooding that swept through the streets of St Asaph.

On November 27, 2012, more than 400 homes and businesses were flooded after torrential rain caused the River Elwy to burst its banks.

The floods claimed the life of Margaret Hughes, 91, and throughout the rebuilding process victims have been suffering from isolation, depression and anxiety, according to a Denbighshire Council report.

After the flood, a massive fundraising effort was launched by residents, community groups and organisations while Prince Charles visited the devastation and also contributed to the fund.

It could cost up to £5 million to update flood defences to protect the city from being swamped again. Businesses are now fully re-opened and important local facilities have also been given a new lease of life.

Library worker Janis Hulse, spoke of how the city’s library was affected and subsequently rebuilt, having re-opened in August.

She said: “It was complete devastation here, and the entire building was completely decimated. More than 90 per cent of the books were beyond repair, and while it was nothing compared to what some people have dealt with, it was still very upsetting to see.”

While some businesses took months to re-open, the Plough, in the Roe area of the city, took just three days to get back on its feet and held a charity event for flood victims on the following Friday after the floods struck.

Manager Dafydd Jones said he was proud of the way his staff conducted themselves during the events, and praised the city in general for its response.

He said: “All the staff were brilliant and in the end we had 20-30 people working to get the place open as quickly as possible.

“By the Friday night we were open, and raised around £1,200 for the victims on the night."

The city’s cricket club suffered untold damage to their facilities, something that has hampered the club over the past year.

Club president Ken Hodgkinson, said: “The pavilion here was destroyed, which made getting through the season this year a difficult task.

“The England and Wales Cricket Board were very sympathetic and fully understanding of the problems we had. Most of all, the community were fantastic, and we are especially thankful to Dafydd and everyone at the Plough, who lent us the use of their facilities for every home game.”

The club has now secured all of the £350,000 needed for a brand new pavilion.
St Asaph City football club became the first club in Europe to receive a UEFA charity grant to help repair pitches damaged by the flooding.

Amid the chaos there were also incredible acts of bravery, one of which has landed a pair of care home workers at the Old Deanery a prestigious national award.

Care home manager Lisa Bowen, and senior care assistant Jane Heath-Coleman, received a 2013 Wales Care Award in the Outstanding Service category - after they waded through the floods to come to the aid of their elderly residents, unable to fend for themselves.

Jane, 35, said: “Looking back I was just doing what I thought I had to in order for the people at the home to be safe and dry."

Speaking on the award, Lisa, 32, whose parents own the home, said: “It’s also good for the people of the city in general to receive praise, as they have been amazing throughout this entire ordeal.”

In July it was revealed more than £5 million is needed to improve St Asaph’s 50-year-old flood defences to protect the city from being swamped again.
Denbighshire Council published the first report investigating the floods which concluded the flood defences were overwhelmed.

St Asaph councillor Bill Cowie said: “Plenty of work has already been carried out from the Spring Gardens to the New Inn Pub.

“We are doing as much as we possibly can to ensure that this terrible situation won’t happen again."

Natural Resources Wales has also recently established a St Asaph Flood Partnership Group chaired by John Roberts, mayor of St Asaph.

It consists of members from Natural Resources Wales, Denbighshire County Council, North Wales Police, North Wales Fire and Rescue, county councillors, city councillors, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and representatives from the community.

A service was held this morning (Wednesday) at 7am, where residents placed tea lights into the River Elwy on the east side of the common to mark the exact moment when the floods struck.

The Parish Church will also be holding a short service tonight, beginning at 7pm, with all welcome.

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