'Half a dozen' residents still homeless one year on from devastating Skewen flood

Around ‘half a dozen’ residents on Dynever Road in Skewen have not returned to their properties 12 months after floodwater engulfed their homes.

During the afternoon of Thursday, January 21st 2021, a mine blowout sent a torrent of water gushing through the streets of Goshen Park, Dynevor Road and Jubilee Crescent.

Eighty residents were rescued from the flood, with emergency crews using boats to evacuate those worst hit. 

Victims of the flood say they have lost tens of thousands of pounds, with most of their possessions lost to the water. 

Phillip Thomas has been living in temporary accommodation ever since the water engulfed his home on Dynevor Road Credit: ITV Wales

Phillip Thomas has been living in temporary accommodation ever since the water engulfed his home on Dynevor Road. He has yet to move back as builders work to put right the damage caused.

Phillip says he doesn’t expect to return home for a least another month.

“It’s hard to believe, twelve months down the line and we are still in this position. It certainly wasn’t expected at the time. I’d say there are around half a dozen of us that are still waiting to return. 

"I am settled now in a flat that my insurance company have arranged for me... but it's not home. I've lived in this property for more than 40 years."

Phillip says he doesn’t expect to return home for a least another month Credit: ITV Wales

Legal Challenge

A number of residents are taking legal action against the Coal Authority who they claim are liable for the flood damage.

While others have had their homes repaired and possessions replaced through their insurance, there are a significant number of residents who are not insured. 

Local Councillor Mike Harvey says there remains a fear that something like this could happen again.

“We have still got a number of homes unoccupied, I think it’s about nine altogether where people haven’t returned home. There is always the fear, and it’s a big fear, that these things will happen again.”

A significant number of residents whose homes were damaged were not covered by insurance Credit: ITV Wales

Phillip says he’s been coming back to his property once a week throughout the past year to check on its progress but says Dynevor Road is still like “a building site” after all these months.

“I’m really looking forward to coming home, it’s hard to believe it’s been as long as it has been but it will mean a lot to me.”

Carl Banton, Operations Director at the Coal Authority, said: “We have every sympathy with those affected and have worked with partners since the day of the incident to provide support to the community.

“We continue to provide support and funding to 2 families requiring temporary accommodation to allow us to finish our work.

“Our mine water management scheme is now working as intended, with further improvements being completed, and we hope that this will start to give residents peace of mind for the future.

“We continue to offer as much help and support as we can within our remit and have undertaken significant work in the area and by providing additional goodwill support through our Skewen support policy.”

Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Immediately following the incident last year, we set up an incident support centre at a nearby primary school and helped to provide temporary accommodation for those residents whose homes were damaged by the flood. During the recovery phase, we helped residents to apply for the financial support made available by Welsh Government, worked with third-sector organisations to provide advice on insurance claims, and assisted with the clean-up of the area.

"In addition to this, the two local ward members, Councillor Harvey and Councillor Peters, have been in continuous contact with residents, and senior officers have met with residents on a face to face basis on a number of occasions.

 “Throughout the last year, we have been working closely with all partner agencies as part of a recovery coordination group, and we are continuing to provide residents with regular updates as soon as we have information to share with them.”