The weather during June has been disastrous for some parts of the country, in particular Lincolnshire, where severe flooding resulted in a state of emergency being declared.
After two months’ worth of rain fell in two days, the River Steeping at Wainfleet All Saints burst its bank on June 12th. This resulted in a state of emergency being called on Thursday (June 20th), after more than 130 properties flooded. Residents of 580 homes were evacuated for their safety before they were finally allowed home last Friday.
The incident has certainly put the emergency response specialists and professionals to the test, with organisers anticipating it could take months before the Lincolnshire town is restored.
Chairman of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, Assistant Chief Constable, Shaun West was quoted by the Skegness Standard as saying: “The emergency services, our partners and volunteers have been working around the clock to get people back in their homes.”
He went on to say: “We appreciate that this has been an emotional and distressing time for local residents and our organisations will be providing on-going support as things get back to normal.”
Nearly 1,000 people were forced out of their homes while the flooding continued, and helicopters from the RAF had to be called in to help block up the riverbank.
Three Chinook helicopters flew to the scene during a Friday evening, dropping several tonnes of ballast at the site to prevent further flooding to the area.
Ian Reed, Head of Emergency Planning in Lincolnshire, told BBC News: “We’re confident that we are definitely seeing a change and, whilst water levels are not going to go down really quickly, it is helping and it’s doing exactly what we wanted it to do.”
He added: “That operation has been a success. It’s a temporary measure, but it’s doing what it set out to achieve.”
Before the helicopters arrived, Mr West noted there were “thousands of gallons gushing through that breach”, causing untold damage to homes and businesses.
To support the work of the RAF, the Environment Agency has reinforced temporary repair on the banks of the River Steeping. The organisation has also fitted CCTV at the location of the breach to monitor river level, so they know if water levels begin to rise again as soon as possible.
A permanent solution will be needed, and the Skegness Standard reported that steel sheet piling would be fitted imminently.
In the meantime, the town needs to be cleaned up, and the local emergency team’s Steve Eason-Harris has called for assistance from the public regarding this matter.
According to the BBC, he has asked for “anybody who wishes to volunteer to help put Wainfleet back on its feet.”
Volunteers will be trained and registered to help with the project, with Mr Eason-Harris emphasising: “Floodwater isn’t nice and clean, it can be quite a dirty environment, this will take weeks into months for people to recover, it is a long-term job.”
This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of having a community-based emergency response team in every neighbourhood to help out in times of crises or emergencies.