On the night of February 15th 2020 large areas of RCT were hit by Storm Dennis.
Storm Dennis was a European windstorm which, in February 2020, became one of the most intense extratropical cyclones ever recorded, reaching a minimum central pressure of 920 millibars (27.17 inches of mercury) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_Dennis]
Across RCT over 1,000 properties were flooded. In the Pontypridd Constituency, residents of Pontypridd, Trefforest and Taffs Well suffered extreme flooding.
The damage was extensive to houses, businesses and transport infrastructure.
The Authorities were overwhelmed by the extent of the flooding and concentrated on calls where life was at risk.
Heledd Fychan, Plaid's councillor for Pontypridd Town was on the scene from early in the morning and helping residents get to safety.
The impact of the storm was widely reported on television, radio, online and in newspapers. With many featuring videos of the people affected
Cllr Heledd Fychan joined with many other volunteers from all over the area in volunteering in a local Community Centre, providing food and distributing clothing and other items donated by people across RCT, Wales and beyond.
Even as the World was hit by Covid19 and Wales went into lockdown many residents were still requiring help with housing and dealing with insurance claims.
It also became apparent that the cost to the Local Authority was going to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds.
But questions were also being asked as to why the flooding was so extensive. Here are just a few of those questions.
Did the cutting of the trees in the forestry contribute?
Were the culverts properly maintained?
Has there been too much building on flood plains?
Why did some pumps not appear to work?
Rumours abounded that the reservoirs above Merthyr had had to release water as they were close to being breached.
Why were the authorities seemingly so under-prepared and slow to respond.
To this day those questions have not been answered.
Plaid Cymru has been to the fore in pressing for answers to these questions and more. They have called for an Independent Inquiry.
Cllr Fychan started a petition which received over 5,000 signatures, this petition means that the Welsh Parliament will debate the issue in December 2020.
Cllr Fychan also submitted a motion to a Full Council meeting of RCT Council. On the 25th of November, RCT Council voted against holding an Independent Inquiry, which would have examined the responses of all authorities, including RCT.
You can read the motion and the way in which it was amended by Labour Councillors here:
At the time of writing a video of this meeting is not available on the Council website. When it is you can watch to see if your councillor voted for or against an Independent Inquiry.
On Monday 7th December Plaid Cymru published their report into the flooding calling for an Independent Inquiry.
You can read the report here.
UPDATE January 2021 UPDATE
UPDATE March 2021 UPDATE
UPDATE February 2022 UPDATE
Take Action Today
If you, like us wish to see answers to the questions raised:
- please lobby your Member of the Senedd - you can find their details here.
- Email, Tweet send a letter to your Member of the Senedd urging them to support an Independent Inquiry.
- Sign our petition here.
UPDATE May 2022 UPDATE
Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales Central Heledd Fychan – who was Councillor for Pontypridd Town Ward when Storm Dennis hit in February 2020 welcomes the review.
“Over two years since the devastation in 2020, not all reports into the floods have been published and residents and business owners still don’t know what happened or why, or whether their homes and businesses will be safe from flooding in the future,” she said.
“People remain traumatised by what happened, and still do not feel secure in their homes every time it rains heavily. With climate change meaning the likelihood of flooding continues to grow, we must ensure that we understand what can be done by local councils and the Government to support those affected, but vitally reduce the risk to our communities.
“These events are likely to repeat themselves more frequently in all parts of Wales, so learning the lessons of these floods are vital. I welcome the fact that Plaid Cymru has been able to secure a review, which is an important first step in securing answers and justice for everybody that was affected.”
Professor Elwen Evans QC, one of the UK’s leading criminal barristers, has been appointed to lead the review.
Professor Evans will be tasked with establishing key findings, shared concerns, lessons learned, successes and good practice, as well as identifying areas for improvement.
Plaid Cymru Designated Member Sian Gwenllian said:
“We have seen the devastating impact flooding can have on our communities and businesses. Alongside taking action on climate change and ensuring Wales plays its part to tackle it, addressing flood prevention and learning from the devastating 2020-21 floods will make a difference to people’s safety and peace of mind across Wales.
“I have been working closely to develop the scope and approach to the delivery of this important review as part of the Co-operation Agreement, and I look forward to the findings.”