RESIDENTS in a Monmouthshire village who say they were flooded for the first time last month, are demanding answers over why their festive season was ruined.

People living in Newport Road, at Magor with Undy, had their Christmas disrupted when, on the evening of December 23, water from drains and the nearby Mill Reen swept through homes.

Some, like Chris and Gwyneth Ford, have moved upstairs as months of repairs start this week, while others - like the Smith family next door - have been told they will need to temporarily leave their homes.

Mr Ford, who has lived in the road for 34 years and has never been flooded, has joined residents and traders in the area in calling for a full investigation, and says “something has clearly gone wrong for this to happen here”.

Recounting the day of December 23, he said: “There was a lot of rain but nothing we weren’t used to. We weren’t worried.

"We regularly get flood alerts via an automated phone system, but on the day we didn’t receive one - so we assumed all was fine.

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The Fords' kitchen on December 23

“At about 3pm I heard an almighty noise in the bathroom, and realised the drains were backing up.

“I went outside and saw the drains were already starting to overflow, and the neighbours were having the same problems.”

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Chris and Gwyneth Ford's home on December 23

After the Mill Reen, which runs beside their garden, broke its banks, the water in their house was nine inches deep within minutes.

The couple believe a sluice gate which prevents water from the Mill Reen exiting into the Severn Estuary was left down in the week up to December 23, and was not opened until late on that evening.

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The water at the Fords' home was nine inches high

He says at around 9pm it “was clear someone had altered the position of the sluice gate”, as the water rapidly receded back into the reen.

Residents have also questioned whether the Mill Reen should have been dredged more regularly, with many saying it has not been dredged for six years.


Mrs Ford called the Monmouthshire County Council emergency phone line at 3.30pm for sandbags. She says she did not receive them until midday on Christmas Eve.

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The lounge at the Fords' home now

“We didn’t receive any help at all from the council on the night,” she said. “It was quite clear we were struggling. If it wasn’t for the kind people in our community helping us, we’d have been stuck."

Rod Morgan, owner of Magor Motors, whose garage is right beside the Mill Reen, was also badly flooded. He was on hand to help Mr Ford pump the water out of his home.

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Chris Ford looking over the reen at the back of his garden, which residents say has not been dredged for six years

“It is quite clear something has gone awry to me,” he said. “I’ve lived here for almost 66 years and have never known this to happen.

“The water receded so quickly on the evening, it was like someone had pulled a plug. But by then the damage had been done.”

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The main road through Magor and Undy, where the Fords, the Smiths and Rod Morgan live

Garry and Carrie Smith, parents to three children, spent the night at the nearby cub scout hut after their home was flooded. They have been told they will need to vacate their home for a few weeks.

“From 6.30pm the water just kept coming," said Mr Smith.

"We just packed our bags and got out. I came back later in the evening and it was basically gone.

“It went as quick as it came. It was bizarre.”

Mrs Smith added: “If it wasn’t the monitoring of the sluice gate then what was it? It needs looking into because if not we fear it will happen again.”

Tim England, Operations Manager for Flood and Water Management at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Our thoughts are with those affected by the flooding over the Christmas period at the end of what was a year of exceptional weather events.

“Several days of intense heavy rainfall in the lead up to Christmas left ground saturated, drainage systems overwhelmed and caused several rivers to overtop, including at Magor.

“We are now working with local authority partners to assess the sources of flooding at the locations affected across south Wales, to investigate what happened and to identify any steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

"Once all the information is gathered, we will be in a better position to inform those affected of what actions are possible.”

A Monmouthshire County Council spokesperson said: “Following the widespread flooding across the county, the council’s operations teams have been working to remove debris and clean up the affected areas. Teams are prioritising drainage, carriageway and the structural damage that occurred across the whole of Monmouthshire.

"Colleagues will be visiting Magor as soon as possible this week with jetting equipment and will investigate if further works are required. The council is also continuing to work with Natural Resources Wales to remove debris from the rivers and our teams are scheduled to attend Skenfrith and Llanfoist this Friday.

"Alongside the flooding response, operation teams are continuing to deal with other winter pressures such as gritting roads which means resources are stretched. We thank residents for their patience and cooperation.”