Wales

Flood damage forces Monmouthshire families to spend Christmas away from home

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Media captionDamon Minchella had just laid a floor on the morning of the flood

"If you haven't been flooded, you have no idea of the mental and physical stress and anxiety it causes. It wrecks everyone's lives."

Rock musician Damon Minchella knew the River Monnow near his home might be a risk.

But until the former Ocean Colour Scene bass player saw a boat go past his living room window on 27 October, he hadn't realised quite how much.

"We'd just put in a new kitchen, new oak floors myself and my wife had laid and finished at 10 o'clock that morning," he says.

"By four o'clock that afternoon they were floating in 3ft of water."

Image caption People are having to wait for their properties to properly dry out

Damon's home, in the village of Skenfrith in Monmouthshire, was one of those decimated by flood waters when the Monnow burst its banks during a period of heavy rain.

The picturesque country cottages were submerged almost as quickly as the water subsided. The pace took locals by surprise but its effects have stayed much longer.

"Even when it got to the front door I thought we'd be ok," recalls Damon.

"It started to come in under the front door.

"I thought we'd be OK because it's not much.

"An hour later, Newport fire and rescue are coming down in boats past the front window."

Image caption Some residents are still unable to move back into their homes

Damon is one of the luckier people, able to dry their house out quickly and begin the extensive repairs that water damage requires.

"The whole house has had to be re-wired because the sockets have all had to be raised up," he says.

"All the kitchen has had to be replaced.

"It was original 200-year-old oak floors that have had to come up. We're replacing it with tiles now so if it floods again at least they'll stay.

"Everything is destroyed."

Many others are still unable to return to their homes and face the prospect of Christmas in temporary accommodation.

One family has been forced to move into a caravan in their garden, such is the extent of the damage.

Sensors have been installed to monitor the drying-out process that is now being aided by a collection of heat lamps around the property.

Elsewhere residents are still sifting through their damaged furniture, aided by removal workers to clear away the piles.

Across the road the village pub has been hit too.

Image caption The Bell's landlady Sarah Hudson says the pub suffered "total devastation"

Sarah Hudson bought the Bell at Skenfrith in 2014 and it quickly gained a reputation as one of the area's most popular venues.

Now she faces the prospect of many months of lost income and the cost of piecing back together the business that she and her late partner had built.

"It was just total devastation," she says.

"This last month and a half we've just been stripping the place out and trying to dry the place out.

"Then after Christmas I've literally got to start again from scratch.

"We've put everything that we've made back into it and we've just lost everything now."

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