Monday, 23 November 2009

Welsh volunteers return from Cumbria rescue work

Rob Schoffield and Gareth Protheroe, volunteer lifeboat crew members from Flint, were part of the 40 strong RNLI National Flood team drawn from North Wales and the North of England dealing with flood relief in Cockermouth.

Rob and Gareth only signed up to the team on Wednesday night, and Thursday morning found themselves en route to Cumbria with other volunteer crew members from Criccieth, Conwy, Llandudno, Moelfre, Rhyl, Beaumaris and Pwllheli.

RNLI teams arrived on scene at 10pm on Thursday, November 19. They worked through the night in horrendous conditions, evacuating people from their homes in Cockermouth, where flood water was surging through the streets at speeds up to 25 knots; in the centre of the town water levels had reached 2.5 metres (8ft 2in).

RNLI inshore lifeboats are capable of operating in the current conditions as they have engines strong enough to cope with the speed of the water. Other craft had to be grounded due to the severe conditions.

Members of the volunteer crew at Flint are no strangers to inland flood rescue, having been involved in Towyn and Kinmel Bay in 1990, and Mold in 2000. They have also been deployed to Ruthin, Wrexham, and the upper reaches of the River Dee on several other occasions.

Alan Forrester volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Flint lifeboat station said: "We only had the meeting on Wednesday to set up RNLI National Flood Rescue Team, I was really pleased that both Gareth and Rob signed up as they are both RNLI ‘Swift Water Trained Volunteers’ but somewhat shell-shocked when they were both deployed to Cockermouth the following day."

Alan continued, "As part of the RNLI team that dealt with flood relief in
Towyn and Kinmel Bay in 1990 I am well aware of the difficulties for both rescued and rescuers, and our thoughts are with the people of the affected areas."


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