North East Wales

St Asaph flood inquest: 91-year-old refused to leave

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Media captionThe inquest was shown video of the flood in November 2012

A vulnerable 91-year-old pensioner drowned in her Denbighshire home after she refused to leave despite flood warnings, a coroner has said.

Margaret Hughes wanted to remain in "the warmth of her bungalow" to "finish her breakfast" on the morning of the floods in St Asaph in November 2012.

The Ruthin hearing was told that her decision to stay probably did not reach emergency flood teams.

By the time her home was searched later in the morning, she had already died.

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner John Gittins said: "Although Margaret Hughes was warned of these dangers by a member of the public and a Red Cross worker, she firmly declined the offer of help to leave.

"[She] preferred to remain in the warmth of her bungalow to finish her breakfast.

"It is likely at that time that she could have had no anticipation of the eventual extent of the flooding as no water had yet reached her door.

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Image caption More than 400 homes were hit when the River Elwy burst its banks in St Asaph in Novermber 2012

"In any event no powers existed by which she could forcibly removed from her home."

The coroner said he was certain that "action would have been taken" if flood response teams in the city had known Mrs Hughes had refused to leave her home.

He also added that any lessons from the incident appeared to have been learned and Mrs Hughes's legacy was that she had left the city a safer place than before.

During the hearing, the inquest was told how Mrs Hughes was registered to received flood alert warnings, but her family did not receive them.

When she failed to show up at a rescue centre for affected residents, a search was launched.

The inquest heard how rescue teams had to swim to homes submerged by the River Elwy deluge.

'Poor communications'

Speaking after the inquest, family members criticised "poor communication" during the floods.

"We believe Nain would have come out of her property had someone with authority asked her," Mrs Hughes's grandson David Clayton said in a statement.

"Communications throughout the two days of the flooding were poor, in some situations mainly from the police due to information not getting passed on about my Nain.

"I think many lessons have been learnt throughout this inquest but this will never bring back my Nain."

The floods of November 2012 had a devastating affect on homes and businesses in Denbighshire.

Following days of heavy rain the Glasdir estate in Ruthin was flooded by the River Clwyd.

And on the same day, 420 homes in St Asaph were also flooded leaving many families displaced for several months.

A Big Lottery Fund grant of £140,000 was awarded last year to help flood victims settle back into their homes.

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Media captionPolice footage of the flooding in St Asaph was shown to the inquest

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