A Jewish holidaymaker stranded with her family on the first floor of a cottage hit by Storm Dennis has described her “nerve-racking” evacuation.
Jessica Falk Perlman, 29, based in London, said she and her family were evacuated from their Airbnb rental in south Wales at the weekend amid heavy flooding.
The family – including Falk Perlman parents, husband, brother and her dog Peach – climbed through the first floor window into a rescue boat, she said.
“The water was so high, it actually wasn’t much of a drop,” Falk Perlman told Jewish News on Monday. “The water was up to nearly the top of the doorway of the ground floor.”
“They came in their boat, and we sat on the window ledge and they said ‘lean on our shoulders and jump into the boat,” she added.
The marketing professional had travelled to the “beautiful” town of Crickhowell to celebrate her mum’s 60th birthday, who is originally from south Wales.
Noticing floodwater seeping under the front door of the house on Saturday evening, Falk Perlman “put some towels down and moved belongings upstairs”
By around 10pm firefighters closed the floodgates on the Usk and began pumping water away. “They were working hard, but they didn’t seem concerned. We were chatting to them through the window. They were busy but they weren’t at all panicked. It seemed like it was quite routine, so we went to bed,” she said.
But it was “a major shock”, she said, to be woken up at 4am by a firefighter knocking on the door, up to his hips in floodwater and warning the River Usk was about to burst its banks.
Within “about half an hour,” the water had reached the ground floor ceiling and top of the stairway, confining the family to the first floor until their rescue at 12.30pm the following day.
“That was quite frightening. We had visions of it coming up on to the first floor of the house and thinking ‘oh no when’s it going to stop’,” she said.
But floodwater eventually stopped at the top of the stairs. “We were then waiting. All the family sitting in the same room,” she said.
While the storm put a dampener on the family’s get-together, Falk Perlman seemed more concerned about the welfare of uninsured homeowners and local residents.
“Obviously for us being on holiday it’s a pretty significant inconvenience and it’s worrying, but it was just really sad thinking about all the people who lived here all year round,” she said.
“We were thinking about elderly people, people with mobility problems. It’s really worrying thinking about other people that were affected,” she added.
The Environment Agency urged the public to consult the latest safety advice amid a significant flood risk, with further rain forecast later this week, in a statement on Tuesday.
The agency said that over 3.7 miles of temporary flood barriers were put up to protect some 25,000 properties, with over 900 members of staff providing support on the ground.
John Curtin, executive director of flood and coastal risk management at the Environment Agency, said: “We expect further disruptive weather into Wednesday and Thursday, bringing a significant flood risk to the West Midlands, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England.”