New rescue aid plans for flood victims

A WATER rescue boat, and more flood training and equipment for firefighters, is on the way to South Yorkshire.

Defra has allocated a £20,000 sum to be used to deal with local flood emergencies.

The good news is, however, bitter-sweet for many families who suffered in previous floods at Darfield and Low Valley, and who have campaigned unsuccessfully for new flood walls.

Residents are still struggling financially and with recurring damp, after their homes were swamped by up to 5ft of water in the June 2007 floods.

During that deluge – when both the Rivers Don and the Dearne burst their banks – time was lost as rescue boats were in short supply.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “In the event of a large-scale flood, it is important that we can call upon manpower and equipment from a wide range of emergency services and voluntary groups.

“The grants announced will help to pay for vital flood rescue training and assets such as rescue boats that will be readily available wherever they are needed.”

South Yorkshire Fire Service’s assistant chief fire officer, Mark Shaw, said: “We have already made significant improvements to our water rescue capabilities since the South Yorkshire floods of 2007, and this grant will help us further enhance our equipment and levels of firefighter training, allowing us to respond to emergencies nationally.”

The new funding was announced as the nation’s biggest emergency flooding exercise takes place. Exercise Watermark will test the country’s response to extreme flooding and will ensure we are prepared to deal with future floods.

It will involve some 10,000 people from 10 Government departments, 34 local resilience forums, emergency responders, water and energy companies, hospitals and schools.

For the first time, communities will also take part – evacuating schools and installing flood defence products designed to protect properties.