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Storm Dennis, Ciara, and Jorge – One year on

What lessons can we learn following a year since the devastating flooding in South Wales in February 2020? 

2020 has been a devastating year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it was also a year when destructive floods caused havoc following the arrival of Storm Dennis, Ciara, and Jorge. The speed of these events were frightening, taking place within 4 weeks and on the back of the wettest winter the UK had seen since records began in 1862.

February 2020 saw nature unleash a trail of damage and heartbreak for communities across the UK with Storm Ciara, and Storm Dennis hitting the South Wales Valleys the hardest. The cost to residential and commercial properties was huge. The news was littered with images of abandoned vehicles and properties succumbing to rising flood waters. From the 430 NRW flood alerts or warnings issued during February, 18 warnings were issued late or not at all, which included communities along the Taff river valley. 22% of Natural Resources Wales’ river gauges in Wales recorded their highest water levels ever recorded during Storm Dennis, a remarkable and sobering statistic that shows the scale of the events.

According to local authority data, 3,130 properties across Wales were flooded because of the February 2020 storms. This included 224 properties during Storm Ciara, 2,765 properties during Storm Dennis, and 141 properties during Storm Jorge. One major business area affected was the Treforest Industrial estate, located just north of Cardiff. Based in Treforest is one of the distribution centres for bakery chain Greggs who stated it had suffered a “significant slowdown” in sales in February, after the floods and ran out of vegan doughnuts and welsh cakes because of the storms. [source]

During the height of Storm Dennis, the River Taff at Pontypridd reached its highest level since records began in 1968, with river levels and flows equivalent to around a 1 in 200 annual event probability.  The distress and economic costs have lasted far beyond the subsiding of the waters with commercial businesses now experiencing difficulties in obtaining insurance cover at fair cost and only being offered small £1000 grants.

There are many lessons to be learnt one year on. Property owners cannot afford to be complacent. Being flood risk aware is now a necessity. The ramifications for commercial and industrial business estates are very real as we have witnessed with the flooding affecting a Covid-19 vaccine production centre in Wrexham last month.

There is light at the end of this bleak tunnel because it is possible to assess the potential for floods to reoccur and here at Ashfield, our experts can help a businesses prepare an effective flood strategy or flood plan. Our aim is to provide realistic solutions that help businesses reduce future risk and play a key role in obtaining affordable insurance – something that has blighted many companies.

Ashfield’s flood risk expertise and ground-breaking data can play a key role in the creation of a business resilience strategy. From being able to offer front end homebuyer or investment due diligence advice via our FCI Flood Appraisal report, through to offering detailed flood mitigation solutions and strategies. 2021 is likely to see much of the same disruption, with scientists warning of more extreme weather to come.

Talk to us to find out more.

3,130 properties across Wales were flooded because of the February 2020 storms.