Business 'devastated' and locals left 'traumatised' as Neath community floods again

  • Report from Dean Thomas Welch

A business owner in Neath has described the "devastating" moment she found out her shop had been flooded again after culverts overflowed on Thursday (3 November) evening.

Gaynor Lloyd owns an antique shop in the Melyn area of the town. She said her insurance will not cover the external damage so the financial weight of the clean up and repairs is "purely on [her] shoulders" at a time when "life is already tough".

The floodwater in the road was so high another resident said the "street wasn't a street, it was a river" and she no longer wants to live in the area.

This is not the first time the community has seen flooding and the council recently carried out a £100,000 improvement scheme to try and prevent a similar situation happening.

In reaction to Thursday's flooding, Neath Port Talbot Council acknowledged that a "much more substantial major flood alleviation scheme" is needed in the area.

Residents were dealing with the aftermath of the flooding on Friday morning, as some properties saw water enter their homes.
  • 'I know I will be angry but at the moment I'm just upset'

Visibly emotional, Gaynor told ITV News about the moment she discovered the extent of the damage to her store.

She said: "My daughter went in first, she came out because I couldn't cross - the water was really quite high. And I said, 'Megan, it hasn't flooded again has it?', she went, 'Yes'. I said 'Well is it ok?', she said 'No mum it's all flooded."

"I'm pretty devastated about inside.

"I came down early this morning thinking right, I'll try and start doing some clean up. I came round the back here only to find this...What was a lovely courtyard has just been devastated purely by the water.

"It's taken down the old stone, this has been here since 1844. It's taken down the stone wall, it's taken down the brick wall, two fences, the boundary wall along there."

Gaynor's shop flooded two years ago and she had hoped the recent work to improve flood defences in the area would have prevented the events of Thursday evening.

She added: "I'm not angry at the moment I'm just too upset, I know I will be angry but at the moment I'm just upset, I'm devastated."

Gaynor said she was 'devastated' when she saw the flood damage to her business and its courtyard.
  • 'It must have been about four feet high'

The shop owner said she will not be able to claim on her insurance because external damage is not covered.

"I know nobody's been injured but - things are hard enough as it is at the moment. Life is tough for everybody.

"The insurance won't cover me now, so it's purely on my shoulders. I've got insurance but there's an exclusion, they won't cover me for external flooding

This is what Gaynor's shop courtyard looked like prior to the flood. Credit: Gaynor Lloyd

"This is not my fault, it's not at least I've left the tap on this is a culvert that's flooded."

When the culvert overflowed, a friend sent Gaynor a video of the flooding around her shop. "It was torrential, really powerful" she said.

"Into the car park and out to the front there was water everywhere."

"The water at one stage was running out of the alley and it must have been about four feet high and it was really powerful."

Numerous fences surrounding Gaynor's business were destroyed.
  • 'My street wasn't a street, it was a river'

One resident who lives in the first house next to the culvert said she has been left "traumatised" by what happened. Lauren was home when the street flooded.

"I opened my door and I had to quickly shut it because the water was just flooding over the wall to the point where it came all the way up to my electric box," she said.

"It then started seeping through my door, my door is broken"

Lauren described using all of her towels and curtains to try and stem the spread of the water but gave up as "it wasn't stopping".

She remembered: "For a good hour-and-a-half it was flowing and flowing and flowing, to the point where my street wasn't a street, it was a river literally.

"It's really scary, I had to cage my dog she started licking all the dirty water it was all round my house.

  • Mobile phone footage shows the extent of the flooding on Thursday evening

"It was horrible, a nightmare. I'm hoping now they can replace my flooring because I've got chronic asthma and I need to rip it up."

The flooding has had a lasting impact on Lauren, who now does not feel safe living in the area.

She said: "I'm really traumatised, I want to move to be honest.

"I don't want to stay here because this is the third time it's happened. They spent a lot of money just for it not to work, for it to flood over 20 times worse than it ever has - so I just want to move now."

This is not the first time Gaynor Lloyd's business has been flooded, after a similar incident two years ago.

Neath Port Talbot Council recognised that further work is needed on flood defences in the area as a whole and they are working on securing funding to carry this out.

A spokesperson for the council said their drainage teams had been busy preparing for the heavy rain on Thursday but the intensity of the downpours meant some culverts "overtopped after the trash screens became smothered". 

The spokesperson continued: "Operatives on site at the time noted they could not keep up with the volumes of debris being washed down and with the increasing deluge their efforts were overwhelmed.

"Those at St. Catherine’s Close said they witnessed a large ‘bow wave’ descending the brook which engulfed the culvert entrance depositing a mass of debris including trees and other items. 

"At the culvert in St. Catherine’s Close, the council undertook a £100,000 improvement scheme last year to try to ease the situation but it is apparent a much more substantial major flood alleviation scheme is required for the area as a whole, and work on an initial business case for consideration by Welsh Government for funding support has begun. 

"Teams including sweepers and gully machines were on site most of the evening cleaning up the aftermath and drainage officers will be engaging with residents and business premises throughout today.”