It started with a sudden knock at the door at 4am on Sunday.
Our neighbour, Lee, was alerting everyone he could that our street in Nantgarw, south Wales, was completely flooded. Looking out, our road resembled a river – fast flowing water, dragging along with it people’s possessions.
Along with my parents, Wendy and Keith, I checked out our back garden and could see the rising water working its way towards our patio doors. We quickly decided to get all valuable and electrical items upstairs before the water made its way inside. Grabbing nearly all our towels from our bathroom, we stuffed them against the doors, praying we could block any way for the water to get inside.
Only some 10 minutes later, we realised that wasn’t enough. Working its way through to our kitchen and hallway, there was only one thing we could do: give up and let the flooding take its course.
Our village was one of the worst hit in the floods in the early hours of Sunday morning. My parents and I got off lightly compared to a lot of our neighbours at the bottom of our street, Rhyd-Yr-Helyg, and Oxford Street, who lost almost the whole downstairs of their houses, with no opportunity to save things like we did.
Currently we, like many others here and in nearby towns like Pontypridd, are waiting on insurance providers to assess our damaged homes let us know when we can try to clear up and recover what we can.
It’s a painful waiting game. We only recently redecorated our living room and it’s likely it will need redecoration again, along with replacing the flooring throughout the whole bottom floor. We may also lose basic kitchen appliances like our washing machine or tumble dryer too. My father’s and my own cars were flooded too, and our insurance will likely consider them a write off. I’m heartbroken – this was my first car, that I worked so very hard to afford.
Meanwhile, others on our street have been able to begin the clean-up, and I must say the support from the wider community has been absolutely exceptional. The local rugby club, Taffs Well, have been taking donations and taking them to be taken out to all the people affected by the floods. Our neighbours unaffected by the floods have been absolutely outstanding, bringing supplies up to our street for those like us who no longer have cars to access them. A lot of us owe a huge amount of thanks to them.
How long will it take us to recover from all this? The phrase “how long is a piece of string?” comes to mind. Different families have been hit with different levels of damage, but it would be bold to assume this won’t take a long, long time for Nantgarw to recover from this. When I try and think of this in terms of financial hit, it’s impossible to figure out. Beside the cost of the damage itself, people like my parents are also taking a double financial hit, forced having to take time off work to deal with this situation.
Prior to Sunday’s floods, we were given no warning on a possible risk of flood in our area, despite the Met Office having predicted this storm almost a week in advance. We were given no help in preparing for any possible flood. Not a single sandbag.
At 5am Sunday, I checked the Natural Resources Wales website to find there wasn’t even a flood risk warning. Our street had already been underwater for about an hour. At around 6.10am, this status helpfully changed to a flood risk warning.
When visited by representatives on Monday, we were told we “should have” received warnings, and that neighbouring towns and villages of Pontypridd and Taffs Well had in fact received these warnings. Later that night we were visited once again... to offer us sandbags. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but this was, frankly, laughable. Homes like ours were already ruined and much of the town had even been evacuated earlier in the day.
Whenever we get through this, the basic requirement families like mine need in the future, is better communication from those like NRW to help us prepare for catastrophic events like this. We in Nantgarw often don’t want to be the “forgotten” village any more. Being forgotten this week has cost residents who have lived here their whole lives their home, and their livelihoods.
That can’t happen again.
Emily Davies is a student living in Nantgarw, Wales. Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyDavies99
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