Storm Desmond CumbriaCumbria FRS crews are continuing to work with partner agencies across the county in a very challenging environment and have attended more than 200 calls as Storm Desmond continues to batter the area.

They are being assisted by a range of other fire and rescue services, including Cheshire who are there with a high volume pump and rescue boat, Greater Manchester with their rescue boat and Merseyside and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Services. There is major disruption with many severe flood warnings remaining in place.

A major incident has been declared due to extensive flooding across Cumbria. Fire crews have been called to an extremely high number of calls with crews dealing with more than 162 incidents between 7am on December 5 and midnight yesterday (6 Dec).

Adrian Holme, from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said flooding was "unprecedented". Rescue centres have been opened in the county, sandbags are being handed out and there is an appeal for doctors to volunteer overnight. Meanwhile, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's (RNLI) flood rescue team has been deployed to the area.

West Midlands Fire Service has also deployed ten specialist personnel and equipment held and operated by the brigade as part of national emergency arrangements.

The deployment includes an expert tactical advisor for flooding, a High Volume Pumping Unit (HVPU) and support team from Sheldon Community Fire Station. The tactical advisor is currently involved in operations in Cumbria, supporting colleagues from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

Staff in the Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control, working from their emergency centre in Birmingham, have been helping to respond to the high number of 999 calls being received in Cumbria. They have also mobilised an HVPU from Rugeley and a boat crew from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire.

London Fire Brigade are among others lending support and resources and Group Manager Andy Roe, who is at the scene, said: “Our specialist flood advisors form part of the national flood response team, meaning we can be called upon to serious or significant flood incidents across the country. It is unusual for us to be called upon in this way but due to the seriousness of the flooding we have seen in Cumbria we have been at the scene offering technical advice and support.

“Our main priority is to ensure that no one is still trapped by the flood waters. Today under the instruction of one of our advisors, 12 people have been safely rescued from flooded properties and other buildings, including a care home, have been checked and evacuated.

“There is still a considerable amount of standing water present so the priority for us is to ensure that as much water as possible is pumped away from affected areas. We are also offering reassurance and support to local people whose homes and businesses have been flooded.

“The flooding is amongst the worst I have seen and my heart goes out to all of the people who have been affected. Some have had their homes and livelihoods completely destroyed and it’s incredibly sad to see.”

Cumbria was the among the worst affected by the onslaught of Storm Desmond, and British Red Cross teams set up rest centres in Keswick, Appleby and Kendal, while medical groups issued an urgent call to draft in extra doctors amid fears the storm could cause casualties. There is also response centres set up in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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