AROUND 50 people in Monmouth, many of them elderly, will spend the night at local hotels after they were evacuated from their homes because of flood risk.

Earlier today, the emergency services urged people living at the Riverside Residential Park, on the banks of the Wye, to leave their homes as the river level rose perilously close to their properties.

River levels have risen after prolonged heavy rainfall on Friday and Saturday, and in Monmouth a large amount of debris, including whole tree trunks, has partially blocked the bridge arches just 100 metres downstream from the residential park.

The evacuees were taken to the town's Shire Hall, where they were given food and hot drinks and looked after by local authority staff.


Paul Mason, group manager at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said water levels had risen throughout the day (Monday) and were expected to peak at 7pm.

The Natural Resources Wales-led evacuation was a precautionary measure, he said, but would "turn into a rescue if it gets any worse".

"We're trying to give individuals guidance to stay safe," he added.

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(Emergency Services attending flooded areas in Monmouth.)

There are around 35 properties at the park, with 50-70 residents affected. Mr Mason said none of them had been taken to hospital.

But 16 of them, he said, had refused to leave.

One of them, a Mr Sayse, has lived at the park for 20 years.

He said it was the third time flooding had threatened his home, but floodwater had never made it inside his house.

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(Mr Sayse is refusing to leave his home despite the flooding.)

"I'm worried about all the rubbish at the bridge, holding [the water] back like a dam," he said. "I'm waiting to see what happens -- if it comes up to [my house], I'll be away."

At the Shire Hall, county councillor Laura Jones said NRW and the emergency services were "all ready to go in case the worst happens" this evening and the river water pours into the residential park.

The evacuees had brought suitcases with them to the Shire Hall, she said, and had been rehoused. Meals on Wheels had provided everyone with meals, and everyone was "in good spirits".

"I'm very impressed with what I've seen," Cllr Jones said of the evacuation. "The residents are all happy, which is my main concern."

At the moment, she said, it was too early to tell if the evacuation was likely to last for more than one night, but NRW and the other organisations were awaiting 7pm, when the river level would be at its highest point.