Eighty evacuated and major incident declared as Skewen floods during Storm Christoph

A major incident was declared after at least eight streets flooded and dozens of homes needed to be evacuated in Skewen, Neath Port Talbot.

Emergency services are continuing to deal with a major incident in Skewen after at least eight streets were flooded during Storm Christoph.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service currently have specialist appliances working to pump water away from the area.

Around eighty people were forced to evacuate their homes and stay in temporary accommodation as water levels covered cars in the Neath Port Talbot village.

South Wales Police said there have been no reported injuries and is urging people to avoid the area.

Authorities have not yet identified how the flooding became so severe, but it is understood that officers are investigating the potential of a "burst mineshaft" being the cause. 

So what do we know so far?

A major incident was declared as around eighty residents were forced out of their homes in Skewen.
  • Major incident declared

On Thursday night it was confirmed that a major incident had been declared and a multi-agency response had been set up to support those affected.

Chief Superintendent Andy Valentine, South Wales Police said: "Emergency services, Neath Port Talbot Council and other civil contingencies partners have been working together to safeguard local residents and prevent further harm.

"A multi-agency strategic coordination group has been established to coordinate the emergency response to this incident and to help support those affected by the flooding."

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said its crews would remain available throughout the night in an attempt to make the area safe.

  • What caused the flooding?

Large parts of Wales were affected by flooding after Storm Christoph brought heavy rain, but the worst of the storm had passed by the time of the flooding on Thursday afternoon.Authorities are still investigating the cause, but the early indications are that it is linked to a disused mine in the area.

High levels of iron in water caused by rusting mine equipment abandoned underground is one potential cause of the orange colour.Jeremy Miles MS for Neath said: "I have been in touch with Neath Port Talbot Council and Welsh Water in relation to the serious flooding in the Skewen area, which is affecting homes in my constituency."Both organisations, together with Natural Resources Wales, Coal Authority and other agencies and services are at the scene, supporting residents including those who have unfortunately had to leave their homes."Current indications are that it may involve disused mine workings but the volume of water is too great to be certain."He said that all the frontline agencies and services are involved.

It is believed a "burst mineshaft" may have caused the flooding.
  • What support is in place for local residents?

Neath Port Talbot Council said a local rest centre had been set up and was on standby, with measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Chief Executive Karen Jones, Neath Port Talbot Council, said: "Council officers have been on site since around midday and there will be a continued council presence in the area throughout the night.

"Our main focus at present is on continuing to support residents who had to leave their homes and ensuring others have a safe place to go if further evacuations are necessary.

"A local rest centre is on standby, where measures have been put in place to protect against the spread of Covid-19."

Dŵr y Felin School has opened for key worker children as well as children affected by the flooding.

The First Minister has also announced that local authorities will be able to make support payments of up to £1,000 available per household affected by the flooding across Wales.

He said: "This is the same level of support available a year ago when storms Ciara and Dennis hit Wales, just before the pandemic.

"This support will also be available to people who have suffered significant flooding while coronavirus restrictions have been in place."