‘It’s hard to predict the impact’: How the fire service reacted to flooding

PUBLISHED: 16:42 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 07 October 2019

Flooding on Velda Close in Lowestoft during the torrential rain. Picture: Michael Howes

Flooding on Velda Close in Lowestoft during the torrential rain. Picture: Michael Howes

Michael Howes

Norfolk’s firefighters have been praised for their magnificent response to the weekend’s flooding which saw the fire service inundated with calls.

Flooding at Cromer Infant School. Pictures: Dave 'Hubba' RobertsFlooding at Cromer Infant School. Pictures: Dave 'Hubba' Roberts

At its busiest, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) received almost 400 more calls than normal on Sunday as torrential downpours caused flooding across the county.

Firefighters were called to help pump flood water out of properties, rescue people from cars and help clear roads.

Greg Preston, assistant chief fire officer, said the majority of calls NFRS received were to certain streets and areas where the flood water was threatening to enter people's homes.

He said: "We had towards 400 calls outside of our normal day to day incidents.

Flooding on Aldwyck Way in Lowestoft during the heavy rain. Picture: Michael HowesFlooding on Aldwyck Way in Lowestoft during the heavy rain. Picture: Michael Howes

"The majority of the calls were for flood water threatening to enter property so our response was to pump that water out."

Mr Preston said that while he and his colleagues knew certain areas of the county were prone to flooding, it was difficult to predict where exactly flooding would take place.

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"There are some areas where flooding is likely but the reality is that its really hard to predict.

"We are prepared and we are aware but to predict exactly where the water is going to flood and the impact it's going to have can be quite difficult. So while there are areas that we tend to be more focussed on, this time the central and east saw most of the rain, it just depends on where that rain comes from," he said.

The "magnificent" response of Norfolk's firefighters during the weekend's flooding was hailed by the leader of the county council.

Andrew Proctor said: "It must have been a difficult situation for all concerned and their response was magnificent."

And Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said the council's own highways officers also deserved credit.

He said: "I'd like to thank our highways teams, who out there in dreadful weather, keeping the traffic moving and roads open."

And chief fire officer Stuart Ruff said the weekend was a good example of the benefits fire control and police control now sharing a base.

He said it meant police and fire staff were able to directly speak to each other to decide how best to tackle flooding incidents.

The comments were made at a County Hall meeting of the Conservative-controlled cabinet.

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