Prince Charles today visited flood-hit communities in South Wales, which are bracing for their third weekend washout from the freak weather lashing the UK.
The first-in-line climbed into a water-logged cellar of a home in Pontypridd to see first hand the devastation of residents and business owners who have been desperately shoring up their defences to fend off the wrath of Storm Dennis.
After spreading some much-needed royal cheer in the town – laughing, stopping for photos and greeting locals including a dog – he met and paid tribute to the rescue teams spearheading the relief effort.
Restaurant owner Joe Gambarini, 65, said: ‘He didn’t just want to hear about the damage he asked to see it with his own eyes… Sometimes in Wales we feel like the forgotten people so his visit means a lot.’
Wrapped in a long thick coat, he ambled through the town flanked by his aides, at one point asking them to take the details of a shopkeeper whose store had been destroyed.
The heir’s appreciated trip to the region came as the national clamour for Boris Johnson to visit the worst affected areas reached a crescendo – but continues to be stonewalled by the PM who is bunkered down in his country retreat.
Builder Steve Jones, 55, said: ‘Boris has missed the boat – he’s been beaten to it by Corbyn and Charlie Boy.
‘It’s going to take a long time for Pontypridd to recover so we need all the help we can get.’
The Prime Minister, who faced flak for not immediately visiting flood-hit areas during the election, remains at the Chevening estate in Kent for the Parliamentary recess.
But his ministers have lined up to reassure the government is ratcheting up efforts to help those enduring the worst of the weather.
England has already had 141 per cent of its average February rainfall in the first three weeks of the month, with a third weekend of downpours and high winds set to wreak havoc this weekend.
There are fears the flooding could spread to areas such as the Pennines and parts of Yorkshire, having already left parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire submerged in recent days.
The Environment Agency’s manager for the two counties, which have suffered much of the worst of the flooding so far this week, said such episodes were ‘not normal’ and ‘going to get worse’.
Dave Throup admitted the floods were ‘getting scary’ after the level of the River Wye on Monday peaked at 6.99m (22.9ft) – more than half a metre higher than any previous recorded figure since records began there in 1908.
Prince Charles today visited flood-hit communities in South Wales bracing for their third weekend of freak weather lashing the UK
After spreading some royal cheer on the streets – laughing, stopping for photos and greeting locals including a dog – he met and paid tribute to the rescue teams spearheading the relief effort
He saw first hand the devastation of residents and business owners who have been desperately shoring up their defences to fend off the wrath of Storm Dennis. Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council, gives the royal a tour (right)
Prince Charles visits the town of Pontypridd affected by recent floods in Wales today. His presence drew a massive crowd
Dressed in a thick coat, shirt and tie, Prince Charles shakes hands with two Pontypridd locals and laughs with them
The Prince of Wales meets local ambulance crews during a visit to Pontypridd, Wales, which has suffered from severe flooding in the wake of Storm Dennis
Charles reaches out to a dog as he sweeps through the town of Pontypridd flanked by his entourage of security
Flooding surrounds a church in Tirley, Gloucestershire, today as more rain in northern England could lead to further flooding
: A worker recovers stranded vehicles from flood water on the A761 today in Paisley, Scotland
Floodwater surrounds a home in Uckinghall, Worcestershire, today as more rain is on the way for northern England
A house boat topples due to flooding at Pillings Lock Marina in Quorn, Leicestershire, today
Flood water in Tirley in Gloucestershire today as more rain in northern England could lead to further flooding
Pontypridd reveals extent of flood damage
Prince Charles in Pontypridd today
Richard Oliver, 43, whose home was flooded in the early hours of Sunday, said: ‘He asked us how we were coping, if we had a cooker and if the toilet was working.
‘We’ve lost the carpet but it’s the area around our house that has been really damaged.
‘It is a bit of a war-zone up there at the moment.’
Mr Oliver described wading through waist-high water to rip up fences between the houses on his street in an attempt to divert the floods away.
‘The water went from my ankles to my thighs in 30 seconds,’ he said.
Nigel John, the director of Pontypridd Market Company, told Charles how 14 of his shops had been flooded.
‘He mentioned this being the moment, re-establishing the shop units, to start to insert flood mitigation elements such as tiled flooring and sockets being lifted up beyond flood levels,’ Mr John said.
Andrew Morgan, the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, showed the prince around Pontypridd, which he described as ‘badly hit’.
‘He was keen to ask the insurance brokers here about what more could be done about supporting businesses who maybe can’t get the right insurance because of their location,’ Mr Morgan said.
Another of the five biggest floods ever recorded by the gauge at Belmont, Herefordshire, took place in October, he added. Mr Throup tweeted: ‘It’s getting scary folks. What I’ve seen over the last few days isn’t normal.
‘It isn’t even the new normal. It’s going to get worse. We need to adapt and respond. And fast. (I’m) so sorry for everyone who’s life has been turned upside down.’
South Wales has taken the brunt of Storm Dennis, prompting Prince Charles’s decision to visit today.
The heir to the throne first spoke to Emma Jamal, 40, the owner of KooKoo Madame, a boutique shop that was filled with four feet of water in the early hours of Sunday.
Mrs Jamal arrived at the shop, which she has owned for 12 years, at 6am on Sunday to find it ‘completely devastated. Literally every piece of furniture, every piece of stock, has gone in the skip.
‘Hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is gone. It has taken us years and years to build up the stock.’
She showed Charles a line on her wall, showing how high the water level had been.
The prince heard how 50 residents from Trivallis housing association have required temporary accommodation due to their homes being damaged.
It will take some up to an estimated eight months to return to their homes, though some do not wish to go back.
Mrs Jamal told the prince she empathised with how those residents felt: ‘It’s the fear. I can’t sleep at night, knowing the sheer force that has come to this building,’ she said.
She had insurance but her policy does not cover damage from flooding, as the shop is in a high-risk area.
The prince asked aides to take Mrs Jamal’s details to see what could be done to assist her.
Tomorrow, the whole of Scotland and much of northern England falls under yet another yellow warning for strong winds gusting up to 65mph, with showers of rain, hail, sleet and snow.
Greg Dewhurst of the Met Office said: ‘It is never-ending. There is no sign of things calming down any time soon. It has been a few years since we had such wet and windy weather. I guess it was inevitable that it would return.’
The Environment Agency said England has already had 141 per cent of its average February rainfall in the first three weeks of the month.
He went into The Prince’s cafe, which has been open since 1948, and saw how water had ruined the basement where bread is baked
The prince met with emergency workers and council staff at the Municipal Building, as well as residents and landlords affected
Flood water surrounds a church in Tirley, Gloucestershire, today, with more rain on the way for northern England
Floodwater surrounds a home today in Uckinghall, Worcestershire, with further flooding expected in already sensitive areas
Flood water surrounds a church in Tirley, Gloucestershire, today as more rain in the North could lead to further flooding
Flood water surrounds a home in Uckinghall today as more rain in the North could lead to further flooding this weekend
Caroline Douglass, the agency’s director of incident management, said: ‘Further spells of rain in northern England from Friday and into the weekend may lead to further significant river flooding, particularly across the Pennines, while ongoing river flooding remains probable for the lower Severn for the remainder of the week.
Manic Street Preachers donate £3,000 to Welsh flood victims
Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers have donated £3,000 to a local flood-relief fund after parts of the country were hit by flooding.
The Pontypridd flooding relief page was set up by Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones to help those affected by Storm Dennis, which left hundreds of homes in South Wales underwater.
The fund’s initial target was £5,000, but today donations had exceeded £23,500 – with 23 days left to go.
The band made the £3,000 contribution yesterday along with other famous names.
Donations of £500 were also listed under the names of Line Of Duty star Vicky McClure and her partner Jonny Owen, while a pledge of the same amount was listed under the name of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
‘This is the third weekend we have seen exceptional river levels and stormy weather, and with the effects of climate change, we need to prepare for more frequent periods of extreme weather like this.
‘People need to be aware of their flood risk, sign up to flood warnings, make a flood plan and not to drive or walk through flood water.’
In parts of Cumbria, around a month’s worth of rain fell in the 36 hours up to 3pm yesterday.
The rain gauge at Honister Pass in the Lake District recorded 185mm (7.3in) during that period, while nearby Seathwaite received 169mm (6.6in) of rain.
Met Office forecaster Matthew Box said those sort of areas would ordinarily expect to receive between 150mm (5.9in) and 200mm (7.9in) of rain during February.
He added: ‘The weather is more extreme on higher ground but this is still a serious amount of rainfall. Given the waterlogged nature of the ground and the catchment areas of the rivers it’s a concern, especially as there’s more rain on the way.’
He said much of northern England could expect to receive between 20mm and 40mm (0.8-1.6in) of rain today, adding: ‘Clearly there’s going to be ongoing issues as we head into next week.’
Further heavy rain is hitting northern parts of Britain this morning (left), with strong winds set to sweep in overnight (right)
Further rain is expected in parts of Britain tomorrow (left) and on Sunday (right) with more snow on the way in Scotland too
The Met Office has issued yellow rain warnings – meaning flooding is possible – covering much of West and North Yorkshire today, with yellow wind warnings advising of strong winds covering the North East.
Strong winds will hit Scotland and the North overnight
Five severe flood warnings, meaning danger to life, remained in place covering areas around the Wye, Severn and Lugg between Shropshire and Herefordshire, while 82 standard warnings and 149 alerts covered the country from Dorset in the south to Carlisle in the north.
One of the red severe flood warnings remained on the River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire, yesterday, amid fears that the barriers which stood firm during Tuesday night’s river peak may not continue to successfully contain the force of the water.
Capel Curig in Snowdonia, north Wales, recorded 86mm (3.4in) of rain in 36 hours after setting Wednesday’s record for rain with 80mm (3.1in) in a single day.
Tankers were topping up water supplies in Monmouth over the Welsh border after the town’s flooded treatment works remained out of action.
In Tiverton, Devon, police searching for an elderly woman believed to have fallen into the River Exe found a body in the watercourse. Jean Disney, 87, had last been seen in the Johns Way area of Tiverton at 3am on Monday.
The Environment Agency has imposed five severe flood warnings, 82 standard warnings (both in red) and 149 alerts (amber)
A flood alert is in place for much of West London around the River Thames, including Putney, Richmond and Brentford
A man was pulled from the flooded Severn yesterday lunchtime at Worcester Bridge. He was taken to hospital in a serious condition.
Michael Sheen’s flood fundraiser doubles its target in the first day
A crowdfunding campaign launched by actor Michael Sheen to help flood-hit communities of South Wales has doubled its target in its first day.
The Frost/Nixon star, who grew up in Neath Port Talbot, hoped to raise at least £10,000 for people whose homes have been flooded in the Welsh valleys.
The campaign has now raised more than £25,000 from more than 920 donors.
Announcing the campaign on Wednesday, Sheen, 51, said: ‘The devastation that Storm Dennis has left behind is very real and thousands of people across the UK have lost everything.
‘Friends and family of mine have been affected in South Wales and my hope is that we can raise money to help with the rescue efforts on the frontline.’
Posting an update to Twitter, Sheen said: ‘Thanks so much to all donating and sharing. Already doubled our initial target within 24 hours!
‘People all over world sending £10, £20 donations and saying sorry it’s not more! Hugely touched by it. Let’s keep going.’
All the money raised from the campaign will go to the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which Sheen has been the president of since 2017.
It will then be distributed to communities across Wales, with those worst affected taking priority.
Upstream in Bewdley, the town’s bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists as the level on the Severn continued to slowly drop, although the crossing remained closed to vehicles attempting to access the town centre.
However Wales will not be hit with more deluges of rain today, with meteorologist Craig Snell saying: ‘There are no signs of anything majorly dry coming through which is what people need in the flood-hit areas.’
The Met Office has said Yorkshire is one of the most sensitive areas to rain at the moment, with only small amounts of rain potentially causing further flooding. The weekend is expected to bring more wet weather.
Mr Snell said: ‘Saturday is going to be a day of sunshine and gusty showers, the showers wintry across the north, chiefly across the high ground and we could see a bit of wintriness at lower levels but nothing amounting to too much at the moment.’
Mr Snell added the Met Office are monitoring an area of low pressure approaching the UK which could bring another spell of strong winds to Scotland, northern Ireland and northern England.
He said: ‘Combined with the wind we would see the risk of further heavy rainfall and also potentially some snow as well for Scotland.’
The EA said that river levels have exceeded existing records with the Colne, Ribble, Calder, Aire, Trent, Severn, Wye, Lugg and Derwent among the many rivers where records have been broken.
But the agency said that, even with record river levels, the number of homes flooded has been fewer than in other major flood-events of the last 20 years.
John Curtin, executive director of Flood & Coastal Risk Management, Environment Agency, said on Twitter that Storm Ciara, two weeks ago, left 800 properties flooded and Storm Dennis has affected 600.
Mr Curtin said this compared with 1,200 homes flooded in the north of England at the end of 2019; 17,000 in the 2015 Boxing Day floods and 55,000 in the floods across the North and Midlands in 2007.
Floodwater continues to surround Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire yesterday in the aftermath of Storm Dennis
Flooding in Worcester yesterday as the country continues to deal with severe conditions following Storm Dennis last weekend
Amanda Cartwright took these photographs of flooding in the front room of her home in in Worcester yesterday
The West Coast Main Line connecting London to Glasgow was closed in both directions between Carlisle and Lancaster during the morning rush hour yesterday, after downpours overnight left the track under water.
The line was reopened for northbound trains at 9.20am, while southbound services could not begin running until 10.10am.
Several lines in Wales remain closed due to the weather, including Aberdare to Pontypridd; Ebbw Vale Town to Cardiff Central; Abergavenny to Hereford; and Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno.
Meanwhile, fundraising efforts have continued for those affected by the floods, with multiple communities in Wales starting collections.
On Wednesday, Frost/Nixon actor Michael Sheen, who hails from Neath, South Wales, launched a campaign to raise money for affected communities in the Valleys, raising half of its £10,000 goal within the first five hours.
Stormy weather washes Victorian gas meter onto a beach after family spot it ‘bobbling along in the water’
Stormy weather has washed a fascinating Victorian gas meter onto a beach in Wales after a family saw it ‘bobbling along in the water’.
Keiran Byrne, 47, an engineer, made the discovery at Ferryside beach in Carmarthenshire on Monday when he walking down the beach with his children.
He said: ‘We saw it bobbing along in the water in the sea and then eventually after a while it washed ashore and we went to have a closer inspection. We didn’t know what it was at first.
‘It just looked like a huge box. But I was really impressed by its condition and the fact that it hadn’t rusted away. It looked like it was made of copper.’
The Victorian gas meter was found at Ferryside beach in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, on Monday
Keiran Byrne, 47, an engineer, made the discovery at Ferryside beach when he walking down the beach with his children
Upon closer inspection the object states that it was made by manufacturers W and B Cowan, a gas meter making company
The gas meter making company was founded in 1825 and operated in Manchester, London and Edinburgh
However when he went down to the beach again the next day, the object had gone. He said: ‘Lots of things end up in the sea I suppose and I suspect when we went back down there the next day the waters took it again so it’s probably still bobbing up and down somewhere, it was really heavy though so the storm must have been strong.
Upon closer inspection the object states that it was made by manufacturers W and B Cowan, a gas meter making company that was founded in 1825 and operated in Manchester, London and Edinburgh.
An Association for Industrial Archaeology spokesman confirmed that the object was made by W and B Cowan which operated during the 19th and 20th century – and many of their objects still reside in museums in the UK.
He said: ‘It is a large meter, the sort that would have been used somewhere like a factory or large country house. It was likely that it was taken out of use at least 45 years ago but it doesn’t look as though it’s been in the sea that long.’
George and Amal Clooney’s mansion is surrounded by flood water: £12m Grade-II listed home becomes submerged after Storm Dennis
Aerial pictures were revealed yesterday showing flooding in the grounds of George and Amal Clooney‘s mansion in Berkshire.
The Thames has spilled over its banks and left the Hollywood star’s tennis court, the veranda of his summer house and much of the lawn completely underwater in Sonning.
The 17th-century, Grade II-listed house is located on an island in the river. The property’s garden had previously been hit by flooding in 2016.
The Hollywood star and human rights lawyer moved into the secluded home with their twins in 2016, after an intensive 18-month long refurbishment.
It comes as more rain is expected today, potentially leading to more flooding in areas already saturated after successive storms.
The Clooneys paid an undisclosed sum for the listed property, which was put on the market for £7.5 million, in September 2014, a couple of weeks after their three-day wedding extravaganza in Venice.
Earlier this month the high-profile pair applied for planning permission for an outhouse to bolster security as the famous home attracts more tourists.
A before and after view shows flooding in the grounds of George and Amal Clooney’s mansion in Sonning, Berkshire
George Clooney has suffered flood damage to his Berkshire mansion. The estate has been hit badly by the recent bad weather
Aerial pictures show flooding yesterday in the grounds of George and Amal Clooney’s mansion in Sonning, Berkshire
The actor and the human rights lawyer moved to the 17th-century home in 2016 after an 18-month refurbishment
The 17th-century house is located on an island in the river, and the property’s garden had previously been hit by flooding
The rising River Thames has left George Clooney and his wife Amal’s Grade II-listed mansion in Berkshire surrounded by water
George and Amal Clooney in Los Angeles in June 2018
The tennis court, the veranda of their summerhouse and most of the lawn have been left completely underwater
The flooding in Berkshire comes as more rainfall is forecast today, potentially causing more issues in already saturated areas
The Thames has spilled over its banks and left the Hollywood star’s tennis court in Berkshire completely underwater
The 17th-century, Grade II-listed house in Sonning, Berkshire, is located on an island in the river
Aerial pictures show flooding in the grounds of George and Amal Clooney’s mansion in Sonning, Berkshire
The Thames spilled over and left the veranda of the Clooneys’ summer house and much of the lawn completely underwater
The flooding has caused damage to the 17th-century, Grade II-listed house which is located on an island in the river