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16 December 2013, 13:42 | Updated: 16 December 2013, 14:05
Firefighters from London, Kent and Surrey are helping with the clear up after flooding on the Norfolk.
The crews arrived in the county last week and have been working with volunteer firefighters and staff from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, North Norfolk District Council, and local residents.
The volunteers, which includes members of Norfolk’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), have already spent two days in Walcott helping residents to try and return things to normal by carrying out tasks such as removing debris, providing support to make structures safe and boarding up buildings.
Another day will be spent in Walcott after which firefighters and Fire and Rescue staff will work in other priority areas along the Norfolk coast until Sunday.
Castaways Holiday Park in Bacton has kindly agreed to house the volunteers for the duration of their stay free of cost, The Lighthouse Inn in Walcott is providing food, and Yorkshire Tea has also provided support.
Chief Fire Officer for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Nigel Williams, said: “I feel extremely proud that colleagues from outside the county, as well as staff from our own Fire and Rescue Service, are helping to make a difference to the lives of people who have lost so much as a result of the floods.
“Firefighters are skilled and well-equipped to deal with situations such as this and I am pleased that so many have decided to volunteer to support the relief effort.”
Dan Roper, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is heart-warming to know that in times of need people come forward and give up their own time to help others.
“The flooding caused devastation along parts of Norfolk’s coastline and I’m proud to say that so many people with connections to the Fire and Rescue Service are willing to help these communities as they struggle to get things back to normal, something I hope will happen as soon as possible.”
The support undertaken by firefighters from outside of the county has been co-ordinated by Steve James, a retired firefighter from London. For the past 12 years Steve has organised charity and fundraising events mainly for the 9/11 firefighters fund.
Steve said: “We are part of the emergency services and so providing help where we can in emergency situations is what we do. If we can bridge the gap after an emergency to help members of the public get back on their feet then that is what we’ll do. It doesn’t matter where you come from, a firefighter is a firefighter.
“After seeing and hearing about the devastation in Norfolk there was an enormous sense of wanting to help. Not only to the communities who’ve been affected by the flooding, but also to our fire colleagues in Norfolk who have already been working around the clock to help.”
Tom FitzPatrick, Leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “The villages of Walcott and Bacton were badly hit by the tidal surge and District Council staff have been on site every day since then, providing support and advice. But I have to say that the resilience shown by the local community has been remarkable, as has the generosity of so many people wanting to help in any way they can. I can’t thank all of them or the wonderful volunteer firemen enough for all that they are doing to help speed up the recovery and provide a better Christmas for the people who live here.”