A MAJOR flooding event in November was described as the "most terrifying night of my life" by one resident.

The comments came at an extraordinary meeting tabled by local councillors to fully investigate the flooding that ruined homes in the Milford Haven area last November.

A joint request from Cllrs Rhys Sinnett and Viv Stoddart asked that the flooding at Lower Priory and Havenshead be reviewed after its “impact on the pople’s lives.”

Cllr Sinnett added on Thursday, February 14 that it had been a “traumatic experience” for those involved.

Residents Natalie Bannister and Sarah Rees came to the meting to give their view on the incident and had submitted, along with other residents, a number of questions to Pembrokeshire County Council and partner agencies.

Responses from the council, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, the Port of Milford Haven and Natural Resource Wales (NRW) were received, although NRW did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Mrs Bannister said that following the flood “there  was nothing downstairs that we could keep and it’s the same for other residents as well.”

“Everything was contaminated, everything was covered in sewage and mud,” she added, with the smell affecting everywhere, including upstairs.

She and her relatives actually attempted to retrieve belongings floating off by kayaking in the flood water, the committee heard.

A resident of Havenshead Sarah Rees, told the committee how she had rung the Port of Milford Haven about sluicing to reduce the level of water in the area but had no response.

Only three out of 14 were still living in the area she said, adding that leaving her home in the dark, with only a torch, was the “most terrifying night of my life.”

Another Lower Priory resident, Sue Davies, told the committee she had lived there for 35 years and this was the second flood her family had endured.

There were questions about why it took so long for the flood water to subside and the committee was told sluicing was carried out as often as possible, although this was disputed by residents.

David Swan, group manager for MWWFRS presented the timeline of the incident from the fire services’ point of view, highlighting the fact that more than 42 million litres of water was pumped from the area.

Pumping was suspended at Lower Priory when it was apparent the water was “circulating” and it was not assisting in anyway.

Mr Swan admitted there had been a lack of communication after the incident with residents due to its “scale.”

“In my 28 years service I’ve never seen the pill rise to this level,” he said.

Port Authority engineering director Tim Bownes told the committee that the culvert was currently being inspected and no blockages had been found so far and trash screens were cleared regularly.

He said that if rubbish is floating on the surface of the water capacity is not affected.

“On the face of it looks a bit of a mess but the function of it is still there and we treat that function very seriously,” said Mr Bownes.

Cllr Paul Rapi said: “It’s obvious your culvert is causing the flooding but you’re saying you’re not responsible for the flooding, the culvert needs to be bigger.”

This was echoed by Cllr Joshua Beynon who said that the council had admitted changes needed to be made to sand bag priority and fire service on communication but no “admittance” has been made by the port.

A review of the sluicing system is being carried out with a report due next month but this would not be a plan for future improvements, the council’s director of infrastructure Darren Thomas, said.

“Flood assessment is not a matter for us but we want to work with other agencies to figure out what happened, what is the capacity of this culvert and what is it that might need to done to change things in the future,” said Mr Bownes.

Cllr Sinnett said the Port Authority had suffered “reputational damage” because of this event and its handling of it.

The committee made recommendations that multi-agency communication be reviewed, as well as sand bag protocol and drainage at a housing developments at Dale Road and Thornton as well as reviewing the whole matter at future meeting.

A local liaison group could be set up with residents and the Port Authority as well as a review of its upcoming report.

Pembrokeshire County Council will also look at its communication with residents in situations like this with a greater focus on face to face meetings rather than leaflets or website suggestions.