Dorset RNLI teams battle Cockermouth floods
22nd November 2009
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LIFEBOAT crews from Dorset have been deployed to Cumbria to help with rescues during the devastating flooding.

Two volunteer crew members from RNLI headquarters in Poole and two from Swanage lifeboat station arrived in Cockermouth at around 10pm on Thursday, November 19.

Floodwaters had risen to more than eight feet in the town centre, with torrents gushing through the streets at speeds of up to 25 knots.

Hundreds of people were rescued – some from the roofs of their houses – and the Environment Agency described the situation in the town as “very serious”.

Dorset’s men in action in Cockermouth are John Deas and Gavin Steeden, from the Swanage station, and Glen Mallen and Lee Firman from RNLI HQ in Poole.

Andy Clift, divisional inspector for the north, who is overseeing the RNLI operation in Cumbria, said: “They worked through the night in horrendous conditions, evacuating people from their homes.

“Our water-rescue trained volunteer teams, made up of coastal lifeboat crew and staff from the charity, train year-round to ensure we can respond to the specific conditions caused by swift water flooding.”

The RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched to search for possible casualties, including the missing police officer, Pc Bill Barker, who was drowned, following the collapse of a bridge in Workington.

Smaller inshore lifeboats were used to move through the fast-flowing waters in the towns.

Mr Clift said taking the boats out was “hazardous” as debris, including cars, was swept down the river in the darkness.

In Cockermouth, more than 200 people were rescued by emergency services – 50 by RAF helicopters and others by boat.

RNLI volunteers from around the country joined the Dorset crew in the rescues.

The RNLI’s flood rescue team was set up in the wake of a relief operation in Mozambique in 2000 and it has assisted in all major floods in the UK in recent years. Team members spent last weekend on a training exercise in Bovington.

Frm Article in Daily Echo here

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