HUNDREDS of wave-watchers gathered at Whitmore Bay to witness the effects of some of the worst storms to strike the UK in recent years.
Onlookers descended on the Barry Island seaside resort on Friday (January 3), and in days subsequently, to watch swell from the Bristol Channel buffered by the promenade wall.
Police and Vale Council employees joined Barry Coastguard volunteers to offer safety advice after advice to stay away from the coast went unheeded.
The heavy rain and gales resulted in debris being cast on the beach and promenade and minor flooding was experienced at some beach front premises, a portable building slight shifted, and refuse bins moved.
Trader John Zeraschi, who owns the Promenade Bar, witnessed some flooding, but more than 50 years' trading experience led to limited stock damage – having placed items up high.
Brother and fellow trader Marco Zeraschi said: “I have worked on Barry Island man and boy for 44 years and I have never seen the tide so high with the spectacular force that Mother Nature has delivered to us over the last couple of days impressive, but scary at times.
“The little damage we have had is nothing compare to what some places have had, but I would like to say the cleansing department did a fantastic job on the Island to clean it up within hours of the storm. Fifteen-metre trees have been washed up. They deserve a medal."
He added: “The coastguard and council were warning people to get back from the prom, but they were more concerned about the debris that was being washed over – when you’ve got a hundred kilo of logs on your head it’s going to hurt – health and safety.”
Barry Coastguard said it was pleased there were no distress calls over the weekend, but volunteers had conducted regular patrols checking for cliff landslides and objects washed up.
A Barry Coastguard spokesman said: “They observed the waves crashing over the promenade at Whitmore Bay and saw several people getting a soaking. These people thought they were in a safe place, but the waves swept over the buildings behind which they were sheltering, and the water cascaded down onto them.
“Several of the capstones on the promenade have been swept off too and the Vale Council did a good job in clearing the debris washed up as well as the sand and stones.
“A few people were advised to seek a safer place to watch the waves. Mostly they took the advice, but there were a few who risked their lives and continued to defy Mother Nature. Luckily they did not need rescuing, thus putting others' lives at risk. Whilst not wishing to stop people enjoying themselves, if advice is given we would ask people to heed it as it could be the lifeboat or Coastguard volunteers who then have to risk themselves to attempt the rescue.”