Floods Case study

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Towyn is a small town in Wales, with a population of just 2000 people. It is developed on low-lying land next to the Irish Sea, between the larger, older towns of
Rhyl and Abergele (both sited on higher land).
Until 1800 the area was undrained marsh long, on a floodplain of the River Clwyd. During the 1800s, an embankment was built, which totalled 3km in length, and a
railway was constructed. This railway line crossed the low lying area known as Morfa Rhuddlan, and linked Chester and Holyhead. The shortage of housing in Wales
meant the area in and around Towyn was being used to build more houses, and attracted retired people and people wanting holiday homes. This meant there were
more people in Towyn and the community was growing, since the housing was first built in the 1920s.
At the end of February in 1990, there was a "depression" with very low air pressure. This type of weather attracts storms, and also results in higher waves with
larger force, as there is less pressure on the water. At this time of year the tides were at their highest. This combination meant the sea levels were higher than all
previous records in North Wales. Also, the low lying area of Morfa Rhuddland directly behind the town would fill up with sea water if sea defences was breached.
Severe storms already weakened the sea wall by the 12th February. These are all specific physical causes.
Specific human causes such as the sea wall being over 140 years old and been kept in poor condition also contributed to the breach in sea defences.
A very high wave known as a Storm Surge combined with high winds and high tide in order to cause 10 metre waves to crash through the sea wall and breach the
railway embankment. At 10:30am, on February 26th 1990, water washed over the sea defences around Towyn. By 11am, the 140yr old embankment had been
breached, and until the tide dropped water surged over the land, spreading nearly 500m. In the worst hit areas, water was up to 2m deep.
Nearly 3,000 properties were flooded, and thousands of people were evacuated from Towyn and nearby towns such as Kinmel Bay. Many people were elderly
and lived in bungalows. This meant there were often no undamaged rooms in the house. Nearly 50% of people did not have house insurance.
The electricity, sewage and water pumping systems were all broken with insurance claims expected to come to a total of £20 million. The town also relied heavily
on tourism as this was its main source of income. The floods at the beginning of the year meant that the summer season would be ruined, which meant that the town
suffered with no income.

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After 3 months, 1000 people were still not able to return to their homes, and there was a serious knock on effects on tourism, resulting in a loss of income for many
people living in Towyn. There are all long term effects of the floods.…read more

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