March 14 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 9, 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron met the local heroes who helped tackle the biggest floods in Wells’s history when he made a surprise visit to the town today.
He spoke to flood wardens, members of the RNLI crew and representatives from the Environment Agency and emergency services who ensured people remained safe during the highest tides on record in Wells.
Mr Cameron heard how they worked tirelessly to get messages out to people during Thursday’s night’s dramatic floods.
He visited the lifeboat station, where brave crew members remained when waves crashed inside the building.
Wells lifeboat coxswain and town council chairman Allen Frary said: “I believe this is the first time we’ve had a Prime Minister visit Wells on official business.
“He asked us how we would have operated the boats in those conditions and what happened here on the night.”
Mr Cameron heard how 16 crew members arrived at the boathouse shortly before the floods arrived.
Mr Frary, who is the fourth generation of his family to work for the RNLI, said: “We opened up the doors to let the waters come in. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to get them open and wouldn’t have been able to go out.
“Throughout the floods we’ve been operational at all times.
“The boathouse was shaking and the waters were coming up the stairs but I never felt in danger.
“We’ve got a 14-tonne lifeboat here, so we knew we were safe and the kettle was working, which was the main thing.”
He added: “Thousands of pounds of damage have been caused to the lifeboat house and we’re not insured.
“I understand the money for the repairs will come from the RNLI’s national funds.”
The RNLI estimates at least £500,000 worth of damage has been caused to several lifeboat stations and lifeguard facilities by the storm surge but all boats and volunteer crews remain fully operational.
The Wells station will be holding its popular annual Christmas carol service in the boathouse on Sunday at 6.30pm.
All are welcome and funds will be raised for the Wells branch of the RNLI.
Mr Cameron also spoke to owners of Wells businesses damaged by the floods yesterday.
They included Paddy McAloon who owns The Golden Fleece pub and John Crook, owner of Standard House Chandlery, whose business is expected to remain closed for at least two weeks and home also suffered extensive flood damage.
Meanwhile, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and county councillor and Wells flood plan co-ordinator Marie Strong have highlighted the need for better mobile phone signals in the town.
Mrs Strong said the poor signal caused major problems for flood wardens getting message through to police officers on the night of the floods
Mr Lamb, who has contacted Vodafone, said: “Given the weather at the end of last week, I can understand that there could have been an effect on transmitters or other equipment.
“But for the signal still to be unavailable in places several days later, especially given the history of signal problems over the past year, is unacceptable.
A spokesman for Vodafone has apologised for the inconvenience and said the service returned to full capacity in Wells yesterday.
The EDP’s Let’s Get Connected campaign is fighting for better mobile phone coverage.