Mayor showers praise on RAF Fairford personnel for flood aid
July 26, 2007
FAIRFORD, England — The mayor of this small Gloucestershire town, with streets still under water following last weekend’s torrential rain, on Wednesday praised the work of RAF Fairford personnel in helping save the town from even worse flooding.
Councilor John Morgan, also the mayor, credited base personnel as well as the local community with diverting the swelling River Coln away from town by constructing a dam with sandbags and barriers Sunday.
“By cooperating and coordinating with each other, we were able to stop the river from flowing through town center and the main streets,” Morgan said in a telephone interview.
“They continued to work throughout the day, filling sandbags and bringing them down (to the river),” he said about the base personnel.
About 150 to 200 homes in the town were damaged by the floods, which were caused by monsoon-like downpours that dropped about 5½ inches of rain on the area Friday.
The town of 4,000 residents may not be out of harm’s way quite yet, as more rain was projected for Wednesday night and Thursday. Rain could cause more flooding in the town since its ground is saturated, Morgan said.
Whatever happens, RAF Fairford’s Fire and Emergency Services stand ready to assist, fire chief Garry Pascoe said.
“They have our direct numbers to our emergency dispatch center. We’re here to help any way we can,” Pascoe said Tuesday.
Pascoe said his crews responded to 17 on- and off-base emergency calls as a result of the floods. He estimated that they pumped out 445,000 gallons of water on base to salvage multimillion-dollar buildings, along with power substations worth about $40,000.
“It isn’t a lot of money, but if those power stations would have gone down, the base wouldn’t have power right now,” he said.
A three-man fire crew was called off base Friday to rescue an elderly couple trapped inside their caravan by deep, cold water.
“I thought we’d be up to our knees in water. It was a lot deeper than we’d imagined,” said lead firefighter Andy Morrell, adding that the crew had to wade through 5-foot-deep water to reach the stranded couple.
“We could see car aerials sticking out of the water. No car roofs, just the aerials,” firefighter Mark Dodd said.
The caravan was stuck in water 2½ feet deep.
“If they would have fallen (into the water), they probably would have perished,” Dodd said.