23 November 2009
After helping rescue more than 200 people during the devastating flooding in Cockermouth, the Red Cross’ swift water rescue team has been stood down – but is ready to deploy again if necessary.
Ian Rideout, operations director, led the initial Red Cross response last week. He said: “We’re waiting to see if we’ll be needed again in the area because more bad weather is apparently on the way. At the moment, we’re just checking our boats and re-stocking with supplies and equipment but, if we’re needed again, we’ll be there.”
Working alongside the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and Mountain Rescue Service, the 18-strong swift water rescue team provided 24-hour support and worked day and night in horrendous conditions to get residents out of flooded properties.
On Saturday, the Red Cross boats also formed an essential part of the search of 929 properties in six hours. The unprecedented scale of the flooding meant that rescue teams were working in water up to eight feet deep and equivalent to Grade 4 (very difficult) rapids.
Ian said: “I’m extremely proud of this amazing team for their courage, commitment and endurance. Together they helped make a difference at a time of real crisis to the most vulnerable people in the community.”
Along with the water-borne response, the Red Cross has deployed five Land Rover ambulances to Cockermouth. Volunteer ambulance teams have already worked a total of 330 man hours providing transport and emergency support for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
Rest centre support
The Red Cross, along with other voluntary organisations, has also helped more than 150 people at two rest centres based at Cockermouth School. Local volunteer Ross Pickthall (17), from Workington in Cumbria, has been helping throughout the crisis.
Ross said: "I’ve been a Red Cross volunteer for two years and have certainly never seen anything like this. I rang up and asked if there was anything I could do because I wanted to help. It’s great to see so many people helping in lots of different ways.”
Read our emergency responder's blog from the centre of Cockermouth
Read our blog about the Cockermouth floods
How to prepare for emergencies
Preparing for floods and flooding
Become an emergency response volunteer
The Red Cross is only able to respond so quickly and comprehensively to emergencies by releasing money from its General Funds, which our supporters generously donate to every day.