150 people rescued from severe flooding in West Wales

Video report from Rupert Evelyn.

Around 150 people had to be rescued from homes and caravans today after severe floods hit west Wales.

Holidaymakers and residents were helped to safety in a large-scale rescue operation mounted by fire crews, coastguard lifeboats and military helicopters when water swept through caravan parks and villages near Aberystwyth.

An inshore lifeboat team taking part in the rescue operation had to be airlifted when they got into difficulties after helping to pluck a disabled man from a flooded caravan because a Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter was 20 minutes flying time away.

Four holiday camps along the River Lery were completely evacuated when the swollen waters breached its banks, and 150 people were sheltering in rest centres having been rescued, police said.

Dozens of people took refuge in a community centre in Talybont when flood water surged through the village and three people were winched away from the Riverside Caravan Park in Llandre by RAF Sea King helicopters.

Dyfed-Powys Police said three people needed treatment for minor injuries.

Flooding in Borth, West Wales.
Flooding in Borth, West Wales. Credit: Alan Cole

To see more photos from Alan Cole visit his blog.

Chief Inspector Robin Mason of Dyfed Powys Police told the BBC:

When caravan parks have about 2ft of water, people have been able to make their own way in an orderly manner.

Since dawn, a lot of people have decided to leave by their own accord.

However, they are upstairs. We have emergency rescue teams in the area with inflatables and we are in the process of evacuating people.

– Chief Inspector Robin Mason of Dyfed Powys Police told the BBC
Flooding in West Wales
Residents said they had not seen flooding like it in 50 years Credit: Alan Cole

Fire service rescue boats and vehicles joined inshore lifeboats to help stranded people escape from the Riverside Caravan Park.

A Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said emergency services were called at around 3am and there was "a large amount of water and a heavy current running through the caravan park".

Nearby Mill House Caravan Park at Dol-y-Bont was also flooded, and around a dozen people needed rescuing.Pat Edwards, 56, whose partner runs Mill House Caravan Park, said they had not seen flooding like it in 50 years.

But she said the three groups of guests currently staying at the site had decided to stick the weather out.

The helicopter has come over and offered to rescue us. At the moment we've got three families here. One is staying in their caravan and two couples are upstairs with us.

We've got an escape route planned if necessary, if we need to we can climb up the bank and get picked up by the helicopter.

We got a lot of our stuff out of the way, but things like the sofa are ruined.

– Pat Edwards, 56, whose partner runs Mill House Caravan Park
Flooding in West Wales
Aberystwyth and Borth Coastguard rescue teams were called out as well as the Borth RNLI inshore lifeboat Credit: Alan Cole

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said Milford Haven Coastguard was contacted by Dyfed Powys police at 4.30am requesting assistance at a caravan park at the side of the River Lery near Borth.

Aberystwyth and Borth Coastguard rescue teams were called out as well as the Borth RNLI inshore lifeboat.

A rescue helicopter was also requested and sent to the scene, the MCA said in a statement.

The rescue teams helped people from their caravans, and two of them needed help from ambulance crews because of mobility difficulties.The statement added there was concern for others at other caravan parks further down the river and coastguard rescue teams were deployed to them.

We responded to the request for assistance and are evacuating those at risk with the help of the other emergency services.

– Cambrian sector manager George Crumpler

Ifan Lewis uploaded this video of flood water flowing between the White Lion Hotel and the Black Lion Hotel in the village of Talybont.

All of the caravans are static and touring types.

About 4-5ft of water was flowing through the main street in nearby Talybont, where about 30 people were sheltering in the community hall and a local pub after being rescued.

A spokesman said people were waiting to be evacuated from around 25 more properties.

He also said there are other areas of localised flooding.

The rescue teams helped people from their caravans, and two of them needed help from ambulance crews because of mobility difficulties.

Scene at Welsh caravan parks after severe flooding.
Scene at Welsh caravan parks after severe flooding. Credit: Viewer picture/Geraint Evans

We were airborne just after five o'clock, we were told there were floods in the area.

We saw the river was fairly swollen, the water level was above car levels in some places, and up to the windows of static caravans.

Thankfully there was an on scene coordinator from the coastguard.

We did all we could, and when we left the area we felt we'd helped everybody that we could.

– RAF search and rescue crew member Sergeant Dickie Myers told Sky News

The amount of water is just amazing, it's flowing from higher ground, incredible scenes, it's devastating seeing close friends' housing being soaked all the way through.

The fire crews have done an amazing job.

Older residents are saying that in 60 years they've never seen the river as high as this. I think it's high tide at around 12 o'clock, we're hoping that's not going to make more mess.

– Resident Sam Ebenezer, in Talybont, told the BBC