Storm Babet – working together to protect residents across the region during severe weatherPosted
One week ago today the severe weather experienced during Storm Babet saw control room staff, crews and officers across the region working tirelessly to ensure that we were able to be of comfort to our communities during distressing scenes of flooding.
Following on from this, staff from the Service took part in Wales-wide exercises around the Cardiff area on Wednesday and Thursday as part of our preparedness work around flooding.
Justin Evans, Area Manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service was the strategic manager on duty during last week’s floods. He explained:
“At the peak of activity we had flood warnings and alerts across the Service area including alerts from Natural Resources Wales for the River Alyn, Clwyd, Gele, Elwy, Upper Dee and Mawddach and Wnion Catchment.
“There was significant disruption on the road network, particularly in the Flintshire areas and we had pockets of residential properties that had been affected by the ingress of flood water.
“Additional staff resources were brought into our control room to assist with the management of the volume of calls - there were over 200 incident events logged on our incident management system with attendance of officers and appliance resources to 44 incidents and officer only attendance to a further 56 incidents. Many of these calls for assistance occurred simultaneously and were challenging to access with many roads and access routes impassable. Our special water incident unit attended 19 incidents with approximately 60 people rescued or evacuated during this period.
“Calls peaked on Friday evening and dropped off as we moved to nightfall - this aligned with the anticipated movement of people, and despite repeated requests from ourselves and partner agencies, drivers were still entering flooded areas, even as conditions worsened. We responded to around 25 vehicles that were involved in flood water, assisting with various rescues and evacuations from areas affected.
“Many of these incidents involved the redeployment of the same specialist resources over a prolonged period of time - so it was quite a feat for those involved.
“The Control Room managed the flow of information and key decision making with a calm sense of urgency - it is quite timely that their work is being celebrated this week through International Control Room Week.
“Regular advice and reassurance messages were shared through our social media channels, as well as officers taking part in broadcast interviews for the BBC. We communicated regularly with partners through the Tactical Coordination Group, with clear and coherent messaging being issued and shared by partners involved.
“There were of course some occasions where people wished that we could do more. A key element in our response was the empathy demonstrated by our staff, and making sure that our resources were deployed where they would make a real difference.
“Our own premises were also affected by the flooding, with the impacts of flood water ingress at Colwyn Bay Fire Station. The impact of the flooding at the Station was mitigated by off duty staff members and we worked with the local authority to clear debris from a drainage gulley running alongside the station.
“In addition to the pressures from the weather impacts, we also responded to a number of other incidents.
“Well done and thank you to our staff and all our multi agency partners across North Wales who worked with us to safeguard our communities.”