Three of Eastbourne lifeboat’s crewmen have been on standby over recent weeks in readiness for possible deployment to assist with potential inland flooding.
During the floods in 2000, when the towns of Uckfield and Lewes were devastated after the river Ouse burst its banks, teams from local RNLI coastal stations were asked to assist with the rescue and evacuation of people who had become trapped by rising water levels. Lessons learned during this and other deployments made it clear that operating in fast flowing inland flood water presented the crews with significantly different challenges to those experienced in the open sea. As a result, the RNLI Flood Rescue Team was formed. Members of this elite team are selected from existing fully trained lifeboat helmsman who have also undergone specialist training in swift water and flood rescue.
During the recent alerts, two of the three Flood Rescue team members who are also volunteer crew members at Eastbourne, Paul Rogers and Dave Needham, were deployed to RNLI Divisional Headquarters at Ipswich from where they were sent to Lowestoft to assist with the predicted potentially damaging tidal surge. They joined RNLI colleagues from throughout the region ready to be despatched to trouble spots at a moment’s notice. In this latest instance their services were not required so after spending several nights sleeping on the hard floor of Lowestoft Fire Station they were released from service to join their friends and families to enjoy the Christmas celebrations.