AN urgent review of flooding in Wales is underway amid fears that climate change is rapidly changing the country’s weather forever.
Since Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across Wales in February 2020 the country has experienced a rapid increase in the frequency of storm and flood events than at any other time in recorded history.
The review will be led by one of the UK’s leading barristers, Professor Elwen Evans QC, and is backed by both the Welsh Government and Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru under a special Co-operation Agreement such is the level of cross-party concern.
Welsh Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “The terrible flooding we have witnessed in Wales in recent years is a stark reminder of the challenges we face from climate change. These increasingly frequent, powerful weather events create widespread trauma, disruption and financial loss for families and businesses.”
Many local councils and other authorities in Wales have turned to alternative sandbags called FloodSax (http://www.floodsax.co.uk/) to protect homes and businesses as they are space-saving to store and quick and easy to deploy unlike traditional sandbags.
Temporary flood barriers like this will always be needed as flooding can happen anywhere at any time but the Welsh Government is also installing more permanent measures.
Environmentalist Mrs James, who was a leading environmental lawyer, added: “We have put a thorough flood strategy in place and recently announced the largest ever package of investment to reduce the flood risk across Wales with more than £214m over the next three years to help protect at least 45,000 homes from flood risk.”
The review will publish its key findings, share concerns, lessons learned, successes and good practice, as well as identifying areas for improvement.
One Welsh council using FloodSax is Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council just to the south of the Brecon Beacons.
It was badly hit by flooding caused by Storm Dennis in mid-February 2020.
Almost 1,500 properties were flooded internally and the torrential rain caused extensive flooding of infrastructure there including rail and road networks, town centres, business parks and leisure facilities.
The Welsh Government provided funding to help Rhondda Cynon Taf Council improve the resilience of residential properties identified at higher risk of flooding from similar flooding disasters.
As part of the project the council distributed FloodSax sandless sandbags to those properties identified at higher risk of flooding in the future.
FloodSax provided by Natural Resources Wales protect a Welsh pensioner from a triple flooding threat.
Anne, 80, is vulnerable to water from a river flowing near her cottage in Snowdonia National Park and water from a mountain behind it along with a stream running beneath her home.
She’s just 200 yards from the River Glaslyn but a breeze block flood wall protects her from it when it regularly floods.
Water also comes cascading down a mountain behind her and feeds a stream that runs directly beneath her home. This means water can bubble up under the cottage so Anne deploys FloodSax alternative sandbags which soak the water up, preventing damage to the rest of her home which was built in around 1760.
FloodSax resemble large pillowcases until they come into contact with water. The semi-porous inner liner within FloodSax contains a special gelling polymer which absorbs 20 kilos of water so they miraculously expand to become instant ‘sandbags’ but without the sand. In their dry state they absorb leaks, spills and floods.
Where she lives in Gwynedd, the rainfall can be excessive with 83mm known to fall in under 24 hours.
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