Skewen residents 'concerned' it will happen again as burst mine shaft behind flood that 'wrecked' homes

A man living in Skewen said the community is now "concerned" the severe flooding they have seen over the past 24 hours could happen again.

Stephen Morris saw the damage caused as a surge of water ripped through several streets in the town on Thursday night.

The Coal Authority, who are investigating the cause of the flood, said there had been a "build up of water in the mine-workings" above the flooded area from heavy rain brought by Storm Christoph. It believes that pressure caused the water to blow out of the mine at weak point, "potentially an old mine shaft".

Mr Morris said the fact that there are lots of other old mine shafts in the area is "quite concerning for the local residents" who are now "hoping another one does not go."

Around 80 people were evacuated and a major incident was declared when flood water streamed through at least eight streets on Thursday night.

  • Watch the full video report by ITV Wales reporter, Dean Thomas-Welch

Stephen Morris said homes had been "totally wrecked" by floodwater and "it all happened so quickly, there was nothing we could do."

He described seeing flood water flowing into homes through the ground floor windows.

Mr Morris said the water "gushed down" the road and one of his neighbour's houses has been wrecked.

"The drains couldn't take it," he said.

"The back garden flooded as well, it was coming through his patio doors, through his kitchen door, the front door and there was about four foot of water on the ground floor.

"It's totally wrecked his kitchen, living room and the front room too."

He said now the "major worry" is that one of the other mine shafts in the area may collapse and cause more flooding.

Emergency services lay a pipe to try and contain the flood water. Credit: ITV
People are being asked to avoid the area. Credit: ITV

Another local resident said everyone is "just really upset". Ariella Magliocchetti said on top of the pandemic, this is the last thing people need at the moment.

The water went up to around a foot and half high in Ms Magliocchetti's home and now there is "thick mud" throughout the house and drive.

She said: "We moved what we could yesterday but there's a lot of damage in there." She predicts the whole kitchen will need to be replaced.

There have been no reported injuries but around 20 homes had to be evacuated. Credit: ITV

The Coal Authority said although the water s now subsiding there is still "a good flow".

They added that they have "a specialist crew coming tomorrow to start drilling work to investigate voids in this area -hopefully then we may be able to start allowing some of the people that have been evacuated back into their homes."

Emergency services remain at the scene in Skewen, with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service using specialist equipment to pump water away from the area.

Police thanked the community for their co-operation but asked people to stay away until they are told it is safe to return to their homes.

Chief Supt Trudi Meyrick said: “We will work with residents and partners to coordinate offers of help but at this time we would again remind people that it is essential to stay away from the area.”

A specialist crew from the Coal Authority will start drilling work in the area on Saturday, to investigate "voids" in the area.

Martyn Evans, Head of South West Operations, Natural Resources Wales, said:  “Natural Resources Wales has officers deployed to Skewen to advise on how to minimise the risk of pollution to watercourses in the area, as well as investigate the extent of any pollution and impacts on the Tennant Canal and River Neath.

“Tennant Canal has been affected by pollution from the mine water and our monitoring and investigative work will continue to determine the extent of that over the days ahead.

“We have also carried out tests on other watercourses in the vicinity of the incident. Results indicate there has been no significant impact on those at present.”

residents affected by the floods in Skewen can call Neath Port Talbot Council helpline on 01639 686868. There is also advice and information published on the council's website.