A COURAGEOUS boat crew staged a dramatic rescue of marooned homeowners as parts of Callow End were cut off by rising flood waters.
In torrential wind, rain and hail a rescue boat crew manned by freelance search and rescue crew Richard Bailey and Mark Harrison came to the aid of four residents of Beauchamp Lane today (Wednesday). The duo, who described themselves merely as 'Good Samaritans', said help was declined by two families who insisted on staying behind to defend their homes from flooding.
Tom Wells, a Worcestershire county councillor and Malvern Hills district councillor, called in the crew after he became increasingly concerned for the welfare of people living there. The water was waist high in places and the rescue crews estimated that levels rose about three inches in the time they were there (between about noon and 2pm).
Two of the people to be brought to safety were Mike Briggs, aged 56, and wife Anna, aged 52. Ironically, as soon as Mrs Briggs looked to the heavens the heavy downpours, which had continued throughout the morning and early afternoon, stopped abruptly and the sun emerged, albeit briefly.
Mrs Briggs, holding back tears as she climbed onto dry land, said: "We're not flooded but we are worried about getting cut off. We have pumps, sandbags and flood defence doors. Leaving is the right thing to do. We don't know yet where we're going to go." While they decided they headed up to the Blue Bell Inn in the village, carrying bags containing their valuables. Mrs Briggs said: "Lots of people are worse off than we are. It is a bit of a shock. We have battled and battled and we have had to give in today."
Among those who turned up to help were Jo Gummery, 38, and her 17-year-old son, Cameron Smith, of Lower Ferry Lane, Callow End. She said: "It's a small village and we do what we can to help other people. I think this is worse than 2007. I should have joined the Royal Navy instead of the air force."
Cllr Wells said he knew of five properties flooded in Beauchamp Lane, making 12 throughout the village but he said the situation was changing all the times and it was likely to get worse. Cllr Wells tried to gain support from local farmers to help those affected by the flooding. But he said, understandably, many were reluctant to risk flooding the engines of their tractors. Lower Ferry Lane was the next most vulnerable location, he said.
Cllr Wells said: "We find a situation that is at least as bad as the floods of 2007 and potentially worse with the river peak yet to be reached. We are dealing with floods from two rivers - the Severn and the Teme with the confluence of the Teme about half a mile north of Callow End." He said the floods had happened despite the best efforts of a team of people, including residents, himself and David Harrison, a Malvern Hills district councillor from Kempsey and father of boat rescue man Mark. They had worked together to build the sandbags themselves and distribute them to risk areas on Tuesday. Together they made up and distributed around 50 sandbags. Cllr Wells said: "It is heartbreaking. We spent all yesterday (Tuesday) trying to avoid this situation. The flood levels did go down but it was only the calm before the storm." However, cllr Wells said the flood defences in Powick were a success story and had held with none of the bunding so far been breached. He said: "This is certainly a crisis for every household that gets flooded. It can be months before they can return to their homes." He said the most urgent problem was finding people somewhere to stay and said he had known cases in the past were insurance claims could be over £30,000 and where insurance companies would only provide cover with a £10,000 excess.