Some victims of the Skewen floods face a six-month wait before they are able to return to their homes, it has been confirmed.
About 80 residents were evacuated after flood waters rushed through the village of Skewen in the county borough of Neath Port Talbot on the afternoon of Thursday, January 21.
Residents and their pets were rescued from the floodwater after heavy currents flowed down roads leaving vehicles submerged.
It is thought the flooding occurred after a disused mine shaft filled with water and “burst”, sending torrents of water over “at least eight streets”.
The investigation into what caused the flooding is ongoing and being led by officials from the Coal Authority.
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Coal Authority Chief Executive Lisa Pinney said today: “We are extremely grateful for the patience of evacuated residents in Skewen as we have investigated the cause of last Thursdays blow out in the mining system.
“Work continues on site to help us finalise the details of further work but we can now confirm what needs to happen next and engage with each householder to confirm next steps.
“We need to undertake two main packages of work following the blow out. Firstly – to remediate the collapsed shaft by undertaking engineering works to stabilise the ground and then capping it to modern standards before resurfacing the road in that area.
“This will take up to 3 months. Secondly – to install a new water management scheme for the mine water which will prevent what has happened here from happening again by having the capacity to drain all the mine water from the mines around Skewen.
“Installing this will take up to 6 months.”
In the meantime, a temporary water diversion will remain in place and will be monitored carefully before, during and after periods of wet weather.
Ms Pinney added: “The new system will use modern telemetry technology which will alert us to any changes in flow so that staff can attend promptly. It will be regularly inspected and maintained.
“We have set up a dedicated Skewen community liaison team and a dedicated phone line 0800 2884268 which will be available from 9:00 Wednesday, 27 January.
“It will operate from 9:00-17:00 every day (including the weekend) until Friday, 5 February. It will then be open from 9:00-17:00 Monday to Friday until works are completed on site.
“The helpline will be able to make appointments for householders to discuss the specific impacts on their property from the remedial work, what financial and other support is available and to arrange liaison with insurers where relevant.
“Appointments will be available from 9:15 tomorrow by phone / zoom and we will also have staff available for Covid-19 secure face to face appointments in Neath Port Talbot Council’s residents incident support centre at Abbey Primary School this Thursday and Friday and some days next week.
“There will be different next steps for different residents due to access constraints and the nature of the work so the helpline staff and account managers will be able to discuss what is specific for you and support you through that.
“There will be some aspects that the Coal Authority provide or support directly, some aspects that the Council will support or advise on and some aspects that will need to be led through by your insurer. We will work together to keep this as simple as possible for residents.”
She said there would be some access allowed for residents to their homes.
“We also understand that residents are keen to return to their homes to collect essential belongings, for insurance loss adjusters to attend and to begin recovery works in homes sadly flooded. We will be able to confirm arrangements for short and long term access through the helpline.
“We know that residents want to understand the detail behind what has happened and what will be put in place to prevent it happening again. We will also make arrangements for a virtual public meeting shortly and share the details as soon as it has been arranged,” she added.
Images and video footage captured the devastating scene in Skewen after the heavy flooding.
Nobody was injured in the incident, which happened after heavy rainfall caused by Storm Christoph.