Suffolk crew help flood rescue mission

AN air sea rescue crew from Suffolk has told how they have helped co-ordinate rescue efforts above flooded homes in Gloucestershire.A Sea King helicopter crew from B Flight 22 Squadron at Wattisham Airfield was in the Tewkesbury area on Friday night and Saturday morning, acting as “an eye in the sky” as the major operation got under way.

RAF air sea rescue pilots from Suffolk have told how they have helped co-ordinate rescue efforts above flooded homes in Gloucestershire.

A Sea King helicopter crew from B Flight 22 Squadron at Wattisham Airfield was in the Tewkesbury area on Friday night and Saturday morning, acting as “an eye in the sky” as the major operation got under way.

Flt Lt Douglas Larkam, the four man crew's radar operator, said: “We were on the scene co-ordinating, tasking another two helicopters where they needed to go.

“We would pass information to the nearest helicopter to incidents where rescues were needed and then later on we got more hands-on too, and were involved searching for people.


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“We searched with thermal visual equipment for people who may be trapped and rescued one lady who had given birth to twins in Tewkesbury and took her to Cheltenham Hospital by helicopter.

“We hovered over her house at 5am as water rushed passed people's front doors. Another helicopter took her babies who were premature to hospital. She was fine, but I don't know how the babies did - they were 20 weeks early.

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“The flooding was pretty horrific. I have seen flooding before but nothing like this in an urban area. Houses on higher land were like islands from streets only a little way away. Cars were submerged, seeing the scale of devastation was an eye-opener.”

Sea King crews remained on standby yesterday and were instructed to fit a special cargo hook to their helicopter to allow them to transport heavy items that may need to be moved around flood devastated areas.

The worst floods in modern history began to recede in Gloucestershire today as tens of thousands of homes had their power switched back on.

With river levels "slowly" falling in the early hours, emergency services managed to restore electricity to more than 48,000 houses plunged into darkness after Castlemeads Substation was deluged by the River Severn.

Temporary flood barriers had been erected around the Gloucester station, which serves half a million homes, and officers were now prioritising repairing the county's water supply.

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