Storm Ciara: Llanrwst community still 'traumatised' by flooding two years on

When storm Ciara smashed its way through Wales and the UK in February 2020, it left a trail of damage estimated at almost £2 billion. But it also left another trail - not as obvious as the damage caused to homes and infrastructure. Because for so many the blow was a hidden, psychological one. 

Homes were wrecked and properties were destroyed. Priceless personal possessions were soaked and ruined in a muddy sludge

As a reporter I saw it at first hand. The costs, problems with insurance, living in temporary accommodation for months, family stresses.

So inevitably it took a mental toll - and speaking to people in Llanrwst it seems that the trauma still lingers.

It expresses itself in a loss of well being. Every time there is heavy rain, there's stress and anxiety that it might all happen again.

Samantha Egelstaff, Llanrwst Flood Action

Samantha Egelstaff of the Llanrwst Flood Action group told me she had received many calls from people suffering from stress and anxiety as a direct result of the floods.

She says that infrastructure issues like drainage have been largely dealt with, but the human consequences and uncertainties of living in a time of climate change added to all of the other challenges faced by flood hit communities in our current troubled times. She says this needs to be recognised and addressed as an equal priority, not only in Llanrwst but across Wales.

She added: "The main issue that we're facing now is that our community is traumatised by flooding so I'm having people contact me and explain that whenever there's rain or storms or warnings of river levels getting high, they're having panic attacks and can't sleep.

"Some people have mentioned to me that they've got PTSD -Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and they get really worried about it. I think what we need to be focused on now is the health and wellbeing of people living in flooded communities."

  • Storm Ciara: What happened?

Travel disruption, flooding and power cuts affected large parts of Wales after Storm Ciara brought winds of over 90 miles per hour in February 2020.

Torrential downpours and strong winds caused major flooding in communities across the country, with damage caused to buildings in several places.

Llanrwst was one of the worst-affected areas in what was declared a "major weather event".

As Storm Ciara hit, people were asked by emergency services to avoid sections of the Welsh coastline and a number of roads were closed due to flooding and fallen trees.

Llanrwst was one of the worst-affected areas in what was declared a 'major weather event'.

Storm Dennis also hit the UK on the 15th and 16th of February 2020, just a week after Storm Ciara began, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Around 800 homes in Wales had been directly affected by flooding after the downpours brought by both storms.

On the weekend of 15th and 16th of February 2020, the River Taff in Pontypridd reached the highest level in more than 40 years and the River Usk reached the highest level since 1979.

Storm Dennis caused severe flooding across Wales, damaging homes, businesses and train lines with the Welsh Government pledging up to £10 million in emergency funding for flood victims.

Closely following Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, Storm Jorge brought further rainfall towards the end of the month.

After three named storms in the space of a month, the Met Office officially declared February 2020 as the wettest on record.