Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Firefighters from Norfolk have been helping the battle for “hearts and minds” in flood-hit areas, according to a top tactical adviser.
A fire crew from Carrow and a team from Dereham-based Norfolk USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) were working to help vulnerable people affected by floods in Datchet and Wraysbury on Tuesday.
Fifteen operational staff are currently in Berkshire with a further seven due to carry out relief work tomorrow.
Boat teams have also been providing stranded homes access for carers.
Bob Ayers, group manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and tactical adviser for flood response, said the team’s help enabled the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to continue their day to day work. “It’s proactive work and the moment my guys are available I am tasking them with jobs.
“Our major effort here is about reassuring the community and doing everything to support them,” he said.
The Norfolk crew’s efforts come after firefighters from Berkshire were called to Norfolk to help out during the storm surge in December.
He said it was satisfying to be able to return the favour.
“We would be helping them out whether they had come up to us or not, but it’s been nice.
“We have seen people here who were in Norfolk, some familiar faces who were part of the work group during the storms,” he said.
Mr Ayers said that despite the response, locals were feeling “let down”.
“There’s a sense of frustration, that they have been forgotten. Not by the emergency services, but it replicates what we have seen on the news,” he said.
Having worked until midnight on Tuesday, the team yesterday moved on to Maidenhead to work a 12-mile stretch of the river Thames.