Storm Francis: River Wye rescue and evacuations after flooding

Media caption,

A whisky distillery - newly reopened after lockdown - had a flooded cellar

A person has been rescued from a river and dozens of people were evacuated from their homes overnight after Wales was hit by Storm Francis.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it pulled a person from the River Wye in Monmouth on Wednesday.

Bethesda in Gwynedd saw the highest rainfall in the UK with 104mm (4in), the Met Office said. Four of the top top five were in Wales.

In total, there were 80 evacuations and rescues across north Wales overnight.

A whisky distillery in Gwynedd, which had only just reopened after lockdown, saw its cellar flooded.

The country saw winds of up to 75mph (120km/h) and severe flooding on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Image source, Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales' Beddgelert monitoring station showed the River Glaslyn was at its highest level ever recorded on Tuesday.

A number of rivers burst their banks, requiring evacuation of properties in the Bethesda and Beddgelert areas.

Police, mountain rescue teams and North Wales Fire and Rescue co-ordinated the evacuations.

Image caption,
A landslip closed the A5 between Bethesda and Betws y Coed

In Bethesda about 40 people were rescued from chalets and homes and taken to the local leisure centre.

About five Beddgelert householders were also rescued by boat, the fire and rescue service said.

An inspection was due to take place on Wednesday to see if it is safe for them to return.

The A5 was closed from Bethesda to Betws y Coed due to flooding and a landslide, and the A498 between Beddgelert and Pen y Gwryd was also closed due to flooding.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area "unless absolutely necessary".

Rail services between Llandudno Junction and Bangor have been cancelled due to flooding.

Zip World in Penrhyn Quarry announced it has suspended all activities at the site until further notice due to flooding.

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North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it received 52 calls about flooding incidents, mostly in the Beddgelert, Abergwyngregyn, Bethesda and Llandygai areas, and carried out 80 evacuations and rescues overnight.

Firefighters had to help six people to safety after a property became flooded at Abergwyngregyn, between Llanfairfechan and Bangor, in Gwynedd.

Water surged down the River Aber, which burst its banks and flooded two homes and the Aber Falls distillery.

Image caption,
The Aber Falls Distillery had not long reopened when it was hit by flooding overnight

"As far as anyone can remember, the river has never burst its banks here," said distillery manager James Wright.

"Our visitor centre is full of mud and the water got into the cellar where some of the whisky is maturing ready for a launch next year.

"It's really hard as we were just starting to emerge from the lockdown, and have been working hard to grow the business.

"We'd started running distillery tours again, and they were fully booked, but we've had to cancel them."

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Alun Hughes, who reopened the Tan yr Onnen Hotel in Beddgelert only one month ago, said he was now facing an extensive clean-up after flood water damaged the property "from front to back".

"It all happened so suddenly, one minute we were about to finish serving food and then there was a shout that water was coming in through the doors. It will be another few months before reopening," he said.

"I had a family from Yorkshire here with four children, staying in Anglesey, and they stayed here overnight.

"Beddgelert looks awful. There's a lot of mess here. Most of the water was not just from the river but down from the mountain.

"I've been here for 40 years. I had to replace carpets back in the 80s after something similar, but I've never seen something like this and I don't think anyone has seen it this bad.

"The problem is that the River Colwyn can rise fast and then the Glaslyn, and other lakes behind us. It has rained so much, the river was so high, there was almost nowhere for the water to go."

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Fallen trees were reported across Cardiff

Meanwhile, police have resumed a search for two people spotted in the River Taff near Cardiff on Tuesday.

A number of properties and businesses in Cardiff were also damaged as trees fell down in high winds.

Nine campers in Carmarthenshire had to be rescued on Tuesday and roads were closed across the country after a number of fallen trees blocked roads.

Electricity has now been restored to the majority of the thousands of homes affected by power cuts after energy suppliers worked "right the way through the night" to restore power supplies across Wales.

SP Energy Networks, which supplies homes in North Wales, said about 50 of its customers were still without power on Wednesday morning out of about 10,000.

Image caption,
A torrent of water passed homes in Abergwyngregyn

Matt Jones, group manager at South Wales Fire and Rescue, told BBC Radio Wales: "Wind conditions… were unusual for this time of year and we've seen several trees being uprooted and blocking roadways.

"Most of the calls we've been dealing with over the past 24 hours have been involving unsafe structures and trees etc which have been uprooted across roads, so we've been working with local authorities and other partners to get these roads open and made safe as quickly as possible."

Image caption,
The River Ogwen was still swollen on Wednesday

Natural Resources Wales warned that such storms could become more commonplace due to the effects of climate change and said people needed to take individual action in terms of preparing for bad weather.

"We've had two named storms in the space of a week and it hasn't happened before," said Jeremy Parr, head of flood and incident risk management.