Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service has come to the assistance of flood-hit Cumbria overnight

Published:  20 November, 2009

Following heavy flooding, the leader of Gloucestershire County Council, Cllr Barry Dare, has offered the use of the county’s two hovercrafts to the Chief Fire Officer of Cumbria, Dominic Harrison. A formal request for assistance was channelled through the National Co-Ordinating Centre (West Yorkshire) late last night, which culminated in Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service mobilising at 5am.

The resources being sent from Gloucestershire include the county’s two hovercraft with support facilities and six Fire & Rescue pilots. The hovercrafts are likely to be used to rescue people that may have been stranded in their homes or businesses and to assist with animal welfare.
Around 200 people have had to be rescued by emergency services in Cockermouth as water levels in the centre have reached more than 2.5 metres in places. Kendal has also been badly affected, while the main bridge into Workington has collapsed.
Chief Fire Officer of Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service, Terry Standing, said: “I spoke to the Cumbria Chief Fire Officer and he felt that hovercraft assistance would be of tremendous value in helping with the serious flooding that has hit Kendal and Cockermouth.
“We can’t be sure how the hovercrafts will be used until we have had the chance to assess the current situation on the ground, but these hovercrafts are much more versatile than normal rescue boats. They have the ability to go outside of normal water courses and travel across open flooded areas regardless of obstacles, including those that may be submerged and invisible.”
Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service secured their its hovercrafts last year in the wake of the flooding crisis that hit the county in 2007, when an Italian Rescue Team loaned similar crafts to Gloucestershire. Utility company Severn Trent Water agreed to pay for two new hovercrafts through its Community Recovery Fund.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Gloucestershire knows the devastating effects of flooding more than most, and I am delighted that we have been able to come to Cumbria’s assistance by supplying our two hovercrafts. The hovercrafts we were loaned in 2007 were an enormous asset in our rescue efforts. Our thoughts are with everyone in Cumbria.”

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