North East Wales

Wales floods: Prince Charles meets St Asaph victims

Prince Charles has met victims of flooding in St Asaph a week after 400 homes were inundated when the River Elwy overflowed.

The small north Wales city was hit by devastating floods after heavy rain.

The prince and the Duchess of Cornwall also had a private meeting with the family of 91-year-old Margaret Hughes who died in the floods.

He made no mention of the news that he was to become a grandfather, announced after the royal visit had ended.

The visit came before St James Palace announced on Monday afternoon that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, and is in hospital suffering from morning sickness.

Prince Charles met residents on the Roe Parc estate in St Asaph for the first stage of his visit on Monday.

He was shown around number 23 by owner Martyn Jones and his wife Isla.

Mr Jones said: "He asked what needs replacing and what can be kept.

"Everything's got to be thrown out and the wall taken down. He seemed to be concerned.

"I don't think it was just a flying visit. He genuinely wanted to see what was going on and speak to local people."

He thought the royal visit had been a "change from all the misery".

Mr Jones, who only moved into the property with his wife four months ago, said: "We've just moved in and got married two months ago. I thought I would have a quiet year."

'Heartwarming' visit

Neighbour Anne Hughes, who also spoke to Prince Charles, said: "He asked us how long we've lived here and I told him 49 years.

"We used to live at number 21 and we were flooded out 49 years ago, almost a week to the day.

Image caption The prince ended his trip with a visit to St Asaph cathedral

"They built flood defences and we felt quite safe, but now this has happened."

She added: "I think it's lovely that he's made the effort and showed support for us."

Her feelings were echoed by Andrew and Tracey Pierce who were flooded out of their home and do not expect to return for six to eight months.

Mr Pierce said: "Since day one, the news coverage we have had has been exceptional. We tend to become a little bit blase about seeing floods on the news. I think Charles' visit today is a part of that. The focus is still on us.

"It's heartwarming that the future king is taking time out to come and see us."

Roy and Cynthia Evans, aged 93 and 83 respectively, said they were delighted with the Prince's visit to their street.

Mr Evans said: "He was very caring and said he was going to come back and see us again later."

His wife said: "It boosts morale. We were very pleased, we didn't think this would happen. He was very caring and down to earth."

The prince's visit also took him to St Asaph fire station to meet emergency crews who worked on the flood response and then on to the cathedral to meet local dignitaries, school children and volunteers.

While there, he made a donation for an undisclosed amount to the mayor of St Asaph's charity appeal for flood victims.

The prince has asked one of his charities, Business in the Community (BITC), to form a Business Emergency Recovery Group (BERG) to assist the operation in St Asaph.

James Simpson, 28, from Prestatyn, who was a volunteer at the flood advice centre, said: "It's wonderful that he came and showed his support, especially for the community, which is distraught at the moment."

It was the second time the prince has been to the city in five months, after visiting in July to celebrate St Asaph's new city status which was awarded as part of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations.

On Sunday, prayers were said in the cathedral and at St Asaph's parish church for the flooding victims, including Margaret Hughes who was found dead in her flooded home on Tuesday.

An inquest was opened last week and John Gittins, the acting coroner for north Wales central, heard that the provisional cause of death was drowning.

'Hands-on approach'

Meanwhile, Environment Minister John Griffiths has promised stricter scrutiny of plans following devastating floods on Ruthin's Glasdir development last week.

He said any new proposals involving a flood risk must now be referred back to the Welsh government.

Mr Griffiths's statements came during an interview with Huw Edwards for BBC Wales' The Wales Report, broadcast on Sunday night.

"There's a much more hands-on approach from Welsh government," he told the programme.

"We now have a system in place that wherever housing is proposed in flood risk areas it has to be referred to the Welsh government to consider whether it needs to be called in, so we now take a much more strong line to make sure that only appropriate development takes place."

The minister said that under current rules, developments like Glasdir would have been considered with a "highly precautionary approach".

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