By Anna Dutton
Storm Dennis hit much of the UK across the weekend, with high winds and severe flooding reported in some places. South Wales in particular experienced heavy flooding, with some areas in Cardiff, including Bute Park being affected.
After Storm Ciara had only just left and many residents across the region had begun tidying up and assessing the damage done, more severe flood warnings were issued as bad weather was again predicted on the national forecast. Over the weekend, Wales was hit with more than a whole month’s rain in the space of 48 hours, with gusts surging to 91mph, according to Wales Online.
Areas such as Rhondda received the most rainfall, which led South Wales Police to declare a major incident. In Cardiff, the River Taff burst its banks with individuals living in Llandaff and at Forest Farm – situated in Whitchurch – being evacuated from their homes. Much of Bute Park was submerged underwater, making many of the foot and cycle paths inaccessible. In Cardiff Bay, the rubbish and litter that had gone into the rivers was washed up on the shoreline as well.
With the clean-up process now in place, much of the damage to properties is being addressed, but there are still concerns surrounding the polluted water that flooded so many streets and parkland. Within the water, as well as any debris or rubbish, there could be a number of hidden parasites that can cause disease and illness.
One of the biggest concerns with the floodwater now is whether there has been any contamination from sewage, animal faeces, or agricultural chemicals. The water may also contain things like slugs or snails which are hosts for pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that can cause illness. Now that the water has started to recede, the mud left behind can also harbour harmful bacteria.
Speaking to BBC News, Professor Joanne Cable who is a specialist in infection biology at Cardiff University has outlined that the:
“The biggest threat is the parasites in the water, like cryptosporidium. With most of these pathogens, they can be very unpleasant at the time, but the body can eventually fight them off.”
Cable goes on to say those most at risk include the young, the weak, the elderly, and anyone who is immune deficient. Advice given by Public Health Wales states that individuals should wear waterproof gloves and boots in the floodwater, be careful of any concealed potential hazards, wash their hands after coming into contact with the flood with warm water and soap, and prevent any sores or cuts from being exposed to the floodwater. They also advise that children are not to play in the floodwater, all contaminated food must be thrown away, and people must thoroughly clean any contaminated items.
On Monday 17 February, the Met Office issued an additional yellow weather warning for rain as more downpours are expected in the aftermath of Storm Dennis. Another Atlantic storm system, Storm Ellen, is set to move across the UK through Wednesday night and into Thursday during the day, hopefully bringing no more destruction in its wake.