RESIDENTS in Sully who were left helpless two days before Christmas when torrents of floodwater swept through their homes say they are living with anxiety every day.

On the afternoon of December 23 couple Shirley and Stewart Murdoch were happily preparing for Christmas on what seemed an unremarkable day at their home on Winsford Road in the village.

There had been some rainfall, “but nothing to worry about”, Mrs Murdoch said.

A couple of hours later their home had been gutted by four feet of water, and they urgently tried to save what they could.

They ran around to neighbours Sara and Ian King, whose home had also been wrecked.

(The Murdochs' home on December 23)

Such was the devastation that the fire brigade that turned up on the day quickly packed up and left because they had nowhere to pump the floodwater.

“The whole street was flooded, there was nowhere for it to go,” Mr Murdoch explained.

The neighbours have lived on the street for around 25 years and have never flooded. Now they want answers and assurances they can begin the long journey back to normality without the fear of it happening again.

Penarth Times: Picture: Sara KingPicture: Sara King

“That’s the worst thing,” said Mrs King, “it’s living in constant anxiety that it will happen all over again.

“I haven’t slept properly since [December 23]. I’m always up looking out the window to check the rain. It’s awful.”

The Murdochs have been told they will have to leave their home for a while as builders rectify the damage, while the Kings say they think the same could happen to them.

Penarth Times: Stewart and Shirley MurdochStewart and Shirley Murdoch

“We’re looking at six months at the least before we’re getting back to normal,” said Mr Murdoch, who said he has felt numb and “in complete shock” since the flood.

The neighbours were the unlucky few on the street to have been hit, but behind them at Highbridge Close multiple homes were gutted.

Residents think it could be due to the new housing development works at Cog Road.

(Video of the Kings' home on December 23)

“Is it just a coincidence it’s happened the first time we’ve had torrential rain since the development started,” said Mrs King.

“Perhaps the Vale council haven’t maintained the drains properly.

“It’s not a blame game – we just want some answers and a root cause so we know we can go on without ending up in the same mess.”

Penarth Times: Sara KingSara King

Mr King said: “I can understand that with heavy rainfall & blocked drains, there could be a flood situation. In that scenario I would expect the water to slowly rise, but in our case there was a sudden rush of water.”

Claire and Adrian Johnson, who live directly behind the Murdochs on Highbridge Close, are now living in a caravan on their driveway.

On the day of the flood they had to climb out of the lounge window to escape their home.

“We were told we had to get out but we didn’t want to leave,” said Mrs Johnson. “It’s very difficult to find rented accommodation that will accept two dogs.

Penarth Times: The Johnsons are now living in a caravanThe Johnsons are now living in a caravan

“My son has gone to live with his gran for a bit.

“There is a big fear it will happen again, it’s driving me mad. We’ve lost thousands of pounds, and we’ve lost both of our cars.

“We feel someone needs to take responsibility.”

All of the residents affected said they could not thank the community enough for their support.

The Sully Village Group has raised more than £9,500 for those affected, which has been shared out evenly.

People gave up their Christmases to transport heavy goods and clear the “great river of rubble and mud” that had been left behind.

“It’s amazing and we’re really overwhelmed,” Mrs Johnson added. “We feel so humbled and extremely grateful to live among such wonderful people.”

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Mrs Murdoch and Mrs King echoed those sentiments.

“Sully Hub on Facebook was a God send,” Mrs Murdoch said. “We shouldn’t have to rely on Facebook community groups, but in our time of need our community was there for us.

“We’d never have stemmed it on our own. It seemed everyone in the neighbourhood had come round to help.”

Tim England, operations manager for Natural Resources Wales said: "Flooding can devastate people’s lives and our thoughts are with those impacted by the heavy rainfall before Christmas.

"Areas of south-east Wales saw the wettest December in more than 70 years, and several days of intense heavy rainfall in the lead up to Christmas left ground saturated, drainage systems overwhelmed and caused several rivers to overtop. 

“The rainfall leading to flooding in the Vale of Glamorgan was very intense, including a four-hour period in which 45mm of rain fell.

Penarth Times: Inside the Murdochs' home after the water had recededInside the Murdochs' home after the water had receded

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

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “The Council would firstly wish to pass on its sympathy to those residents affected by the flooding before Christmas.

“Excessive rainfall on already saturated land resulted in high level of surface water runoff, with existing built and natural drainage unable to deal with the flows over the period of time.

“We are now allocating extra resources to inspect and where necessary cleanse all highway drainage in areas affected by flooding. There will also be an investigation into the flooding, carried out in partnership with National Resources Wales and Dwr Cymru.

“To help support residents affected by flooding, the Council provided over 1300 sandbags issued regular updates on the situation through our website and social media channels. The Council is also making arrangement for sandbags to be stored and made available in Sully.”

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