Kevin Ashford is a reporter and presenter for ITV Wales, and lives in Ceredigion.
The photo was rather blurry but the scale of the devastation was clear. A friend who is part of the lifeboat crew at home in Borth had rung me early on that fateful morning in June. I was in Cardiff working a weekend shift. He was telling me how they’d been called out to bad flooding. I asked him to send me a picture and what I saw meant I was fully awake in an instant. It was a view of the Riverside caravan site near where I lived. I knew it pretty well – but I didn’t recognise what I saw.
It was the beginning of an extraordinary weekend. I travelled back immediately to report from the flood hit areas. I knew my house would be safe as it’s set up on a hill above the village but it was clear from reports that were coming in that many other people hadn’t been so lucky. At one point I was stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts of Aberystwyth with our satellite truck and we decided to send back footage that had been filmed earlier. Watching it literally left me speechless. Cameraman Phill Davies had got to Talybont soon after the flooding hit that village. Seeing pictures of water rushing through houses and streets that were so familiar made this a very personal story to cover.
When I eventually got home, there were more surreal scenes. A lot of money has been spent on sea defences in Borth. No one expected the danger to come from inland. It was the speed of the flooding that seems to have taken everyone by surprise.
I waded round a friend’s bungalow. He lives alone and was in bed when he was woken by a phone call from his daughter telling him to look outside. He managed to get out safely but the sight of some of his most precious belongings like family photographs floating in the muddy water was heartbreaking.
The water receded quite fast but the impact is still being felt. Most people are back in their homes but repair work is still going on and businesses are still trying to recover. Many will face higher insurance premiums – if indeed they can get the cover. Talking to those who were hit, there’s also another legacy of the summer’s floods. It’s a nervousness, a nagging fear whenever it rains for any length of time. Nature in this part of the world can be beautiful. It can also be very cruel.
Tomorrow, our North Wales Reporter Ian Lang writes about the flooding that hit St Asaph in late November.