ANOTHER hundred troops were deployed to Worcestershire tonight as part of ongoing work to tackle the impact of flooding, providing a lifeline to the most vulnerable people in the county.
Lieutenant colonel Ivor Gardiner, commanding officer of 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment, said he expected 100 more troops to join the 200 already deployed in Worcestershire to help with flood relief. The extra troops will be deployed from Market Drayton to support the police, fire and ambulance service during the flood crisis with a second peak of between 5.3 metres and 5.4 metres expected during the weekend on the river Severn in Worcester, 20cm lower than the previous peak of this month's floods.
L/Col Gardiner said he already had soldiers deployed across the north and south of the county, working with highways to keep roads open from four county depots. Tasks have included keeping roads clear of debris and putting up signs for diversions and keeping up a permanent presence in the most vulnerable locations, including Upton, Severn Stoke, Tenbury Wells and Bewdley.
He said: "The view we're taking is why keep 200 people sat in Worcester when they can be out and about in more vulnerable locations to react very quickly on the ground? If an ambulance can't cross a flooded road we can help get the ambulance crew across the flood water."
They have vehicles called TVCs with a very high ground clearance which enables them to power through the flood water because they have a wade depth of 1.5 metres. He said: "People have been very positive about our presence. We need to be very careful that there is not a perception that the army are here because the emergency services can't cope. We can take up some of the slack in some of these places and reduce the burden on them. We are here to help. The military can do this sort of thing on an enduring basis. Austere conditions are what we are used to. This is an opportunity for us to return the favour by supporting the local community after the support we had for the troops in Afghanistan."
Supt Mark Travis, part of silver group, a tactical group co-ordinating a response to the floods, said all of the expertise of people had been used to protect vulnerable people and property. Mapping facilities have been used to keep track of the most vulnerable people and they had been able to bring bread and milk to people running short on supplies. Animal welfare has also been important, such as providing feed. They have helped people remove property from their homes. He said: "There are no stories of dramatic rescues. This is because our plans are working."