James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Prince Charles visits flood-hit communities in South Wales
21 February 2020, 21:59
The Prince of Wales has met with residents and business owners in the Valleys town of Pontypridd to see the devastation caused by flooding to businesses and homes in South Wales.
Charles met with people in the Valleys town of Pontypridd, where 80 shops have been flooded in the centre alone.
It is estimated that 1,100 residential and commercial properties have been affected in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
The heir to the throne first spoke to Emma Jamal, 40, the owner of KooKoo Madame, a boutique shop that was filled with four feet of water in the early hours of Sunday.
Mrs Jamal arrived at the shop, which she has owned for 12 years, at 6am on Sunday to find it "completely devastated".
"Literally every piece of furniture, every piece of stock, has gone in the skip," she said.
"Hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is gone. It has taken us years and years to build up the stock."
She showed Charles a line on her wall, showing how high the water level had been.
The prince heard how 50 residents from Trivallis housing association have required temporary accommodation due to their homes being damaged.
It will take some up to an estimated eight months to return to their homes, though some do not wish to go back.
Mrs Jamal told the prince she empathised with how those residents felt.
"It's the fear. I can't sleep at night, knowing the sheer force that has come to this building," she said.
She had insurance but her policy does not cover damage from flooding, as the shop is in a high-risk area.
The prince asked aides to take Mrs Jamal's details to see what could be done to assist her.
Charles walked down Pontypridd's high street, where many shops are closed due to flood damage.
He went into The Prince's cafe, which has been open since 1948, and saw how water had ruined the basement where bread is baked.
The prince met with emergency workers and council staff at the Municipal Building, as well as residents and landlords affected.
Richard Oliver, 43, whose home was flooded in the early hours of Sunday, said: "He asked us how we were coping, if we had a cooker and if the toilet was working.
"We've lost the carpet but it's the area around our house that has been really damaged.
"It is a bit of a war-zone up there at the moment."
Mr Oliver described wading through waist-high water to rip up fences between the houses on his street in an attempt to divert the floods away.
"The water went from my ankles to my thighs in 30 seconds," he said.
Nigel John, the director of Pontypridd Market Company, told Charles how 14 of his shops had been flooded.
"He mentioned this being the moment, re-establishing the shop units, to start to insert flood mitigation elements such as tiled flooring and sockets being lifted up beyond flood levels," Mr John said.
Andrew Morgan, the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, showed the prince around Pontypridd, which he described as "badly hit".
"He was keen to ask the insurance brokers here about what more could be done about supporting businesses who maybe can't get the right insurance because of their location," Mr Morgan said.
"Everyone was pleased to see him. I think it is a bit of positivity in the town in what has been the worst week in decades."
Mr Morgan told Charles how the previous record level for the River Taff, set in 1979, had been surpassed by 3ft during Storm Dennis.
The prince previously visited Pontypridd with the Duchess of Cornwall to open Pontypridd Lido, which is now estimated to have suffered £1.5 million of damage.
It is estimated that 550 homes and 505 businesses in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area have been affected by flooding, a figure expected to rise to 1,100 when all damage is reported.
Mr Morgan said seven bridges, both footbridges and highways, in Pontypridd had been condemned due to the storm.
There is an estimated £30 million of damage to infrastructure in the county.