Pentre Salvation Army's Storm Dennis flood relief mission
published on 20 Feb 2020
A Rhondda man has praised local people for supporting his church’s efforts to help villagers in Pentre after their homes were flooded during Storm Dennis.
Paul Sass of The Salvation Army in Pentre and his team went out after Sunday’s deluge with flasks of hot water to make tea and coffee for stricken residents. They also handed out freshly-made sandwiches, cereal bars and bottled water.
“It was 3.00pm on Sunday and we’d heard that four streets had been flooded. Pleasant Street and Lewis Street were completely cut off and parts of Treharne Street and Baglan Street were also cut off, which is about 80 houses all-in-all” said Paul.
“Eight of us met up at The Salvation Army hall on Carne Street and made 160 sandwiches and we filled flasks up with hot water and went out. We also made sure we had water to hand out and my wife Donna and I had rushed to Lidl before it closed at 4.00pm, and bought 36 two litre bottles of water.
“We went out and people were just amazed that we were handing out sandwiches and making hot drinks for them in the street with the hot water from the flasks we were carrying”
While they were out comforting residents, the team heard that the floodwaters had been so deep that cars were floating in the streets.
“In Pleasant Street, we heard that the water has been so high there were cars floating in the street and the water was up to the windowsills and people were trapped in their homes. In one house, the family had to be rescued by the fire service through the downstairs window.
“We stayed out until it was dark and the flasks were empty and the cereal bars were all gone. While all this was happening, The Salvation Army hall was also open in case anybody needed shelter or a hot drink. We all met back at the hall afterwards and prayed and decided to go out again on Monday morning”
At 10.00am on Monday, the team met up again and set about making sandwiches to give to people affected by the flood along with fresh pastries.
“By Monday afternoon, we’d made up another 160 sandwiches, bought 18 two litre bottles of water and we had fresh pastries we’d kindly been given by Lidl as part of the Food Share programme which operates here. We went out again and took out 20 yard brushes that had been donated and we distributed them to people who needed them.
“The main problems we encountered on Monday were the mud and that the roads were blocked. There were cars and car transporter lorries which had been bought in to take the flood damaged cars away as well as the council cleaning trucks. I think it’s at this point that the significance of what had happened was dawning on everyone whose homes had been flooded because up until then I think they were in survival mode and running on adrenaline”
As they toured the stricken area on Monday, Paul and his team identified that there were basic items people needed and turned to social media to ask for help.
“We were taking requests from people for items they needed such as cleaning products, towels, crockery and shoes and posting these on our Facebook page. We had donations in from the Maesycoed Community Centre; from a couple in Cardiff who’d seen the appeal on Facebook and one lady who bought in 40 boxes of Rice Krispies.
“The response from the local community – both from people coming to the hall with donations or messages on Facebook from those asking us what we needed and messages of support, was absolutely phenomenal and the local council has been fantastic. To see the way people are interacting and supporting each other has restored my faith in the power of community and of the importance of people pulling together during times of need.”
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