Towyn sea defences

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Towyn sea defences

Part of the flood plain west of the river Clwyd was drained under Parliamentary powers from 1793. Construction of the Chester & Holyhead Railway in the 1840s included a sea defence. The various buildings developed on the low-lying land here depended on the railway company keeping the sea at bay.

On 26 February 1990, the sea defences were breached for c.400 metres at Towyn when a ferocious storm coincided with hide tide and a surge of water some 1.5 metres high. Lifeboats and helicopters were brought in to evacuate residents as seawater swept past the railway and flooded houses and caravans. Roughly 10 square km of land were inundated.

The floods left c.6,000 people temporarily homeless. Many had lost uninsured possessions. Six months later, c.1,000 had still not been able to return to their homes. An estimated 2,800 properties in Towyn, Pensarn and Kinmel Bay were affected. Smaller numbers of people and homes were flooded by other inundations further east, at Rhyl, Prestatyn and Ffynnongroyw. The bill for Clwyd County Council alone was £2.5m. There were arguments about whether British Rail, which then owned the railway infrastructure, was liable for the damage.

The coastal defences were strengthened, with large amounts of rock stacked on the seaward side of the sea wall to form revetments. A House of Commons committee held an inquiry into the 1990 flood, which alerted authorities around Britain to the importance of ensuring that coastal defences are adequate for a future when extreme weather events are likely to be increasingly common.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL22 9LD

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