News Watch

Storm Callum floods Wales with climate change proposals

Authorities have proposed funding into improved flood defences, as yet another disruptive rainfall event highlights modern changes in UK climate.

By Matt Tomlin

Over the weekend of Friday 12th October to Sunday 14th October, Storm Callum and its impacts were pronounced in many parts of Wales. Overall, Carmarthensire, Powys and Ceredigion were reported as being the worst affected areas of Wales due to excess rainfall.

The storm caused the worst flooding for Wales in thirty years as rivers in west Wales such as the Towy, which reached critical levels in Carmarthen on Saturday evening, breached the town’s near-thirty year old flood defences. A 21 year old man also died on his way to work following a landslip in Cwmduad, Carmarthenshire.

Pontargothi, also in Carmarthenshire, experienced major levels of flooding. The impacts included over 70 sheep in the area being ‘washed away’ and a 93 year old woman waking up to flood water as high as her mattress and subsequently having to be evacuated immediately, according to her son.

In Ceredigion, the Teifi reached 4.5m (15ft) on Saturday 13th and consequently burst its banks, flooding Lampeter and Newcastle Emlyn. Potentially serious structural damage is being looked into.

The town of Crickhowell, South Powys, was described by locals as an ‘island’ for a certain period over the weekend, as exit routes were cut off by water. In Brecon, also in South Powys, Llanfaes Bridge was almost submerged and a similar situation was experienced with an aqueduct in Aberdulais, near Swansea. Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay was also submerged, but the clearup efforts in the bay were swift and the bay has since been cleared up.

Natural Resources Wales, who were posting updates online consistently throughout the weekend of Storm Callum, are planning to conduct a ‘large review’ about the threats of flooding in Wales, according to Operations Manager Huwel Manley. The Welsh Assembly has promised £350m to Natural Resources Wales and local authorities for reducing the risks of future periods of storm flooding, as well as flooding created by coastal erosion, according to Welsh Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn.

With UK flooding having intensified over the past 100 years, and particularly since 2000 according to the Met Office, the effects of climate change on rainfall are increasingly having to be dealt with by emergency services and local authorities in both Wales and the UK as a whole. The Government’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 highlighted flood risk as a major cause for concern with the increased precipitation created by climate change. Its section dedicated to Wales stated that more action was required by the Welsh Government with regards building and sustaining flood defence structures and procedures.

Whilst policy and funding towards future flood defences following Storm Callum are proposed, the public are being advised to be aware of the risk of flooding where they live. A government press release earlier this year stated that young people aged 18-34 years old are least likely to be aware of how to get help and information regarding the risks of flooding to themselves. For English people there is an online GOV UK page where you can check flood risks in your home areas and for Welsh people Natural Resources Wales have a similar page on their website.

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