Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service flood experts called to West Midlands because of flooding

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service flood experts were called to the West Midlands to help deal with flash flooding in the West Bromwich area, near Birmingham, earlier today.

The Technical Rescue Unit, with a surface rescue boat, and the Urban Search and Rescue Team were mobilised from Thetford at 11.51am.

Norfolk's fire service has been working with other services along the east coast between Humberside and the River Thames to ensure full co-ordination in times of crisis.

Norfolk's assistant chief fire officer, Roy Harold explained: 'Norfolk has taken the lead in flood rescue work, so once the flooding has happened, we go in and get people out.

'The last couple of weeks we have been working through the same system so that we are on-call for the whole country, rather than just for local flooding. This last few days has been the first test of that.'

The system comes as a result of four Norfolk teams being funded by Defra, the government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to be on-call for flooding emergencies.

As thunderstorms spread from Northern Ireland across England the Met Office and Environment Agency co-ordinated its forecasting systems and put the Norfolk team on alert, as Norfolk was unlikely to be effected by the storms.

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A man in his 60s died after being swept away by floodwater in Shropshire, as heavy rain and thunderstorms battered parts of central and northern England.

West Mercia Police said the man was overcome by the water in a stream at Bittlerley, near Ludlow, Shropshire, shortly after 10.30am.

Flooding has also hit parts of the West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire following downpours in the region.

The Environment Agency urged people to be on alert for more flash flooding across the Midlands and northern England as the Met Office forecast outbreaks of torrential rain across many central and northern parts of the country.

However, the two Norfolk crews, made up of 15 people, were stood down before their arrival as their assistance was no longer required.

Mr Harold added: 'Luckily the weather eased, the thunder heads broke up and the sun started to peak through and we got the call to say 'we won't need you now guys'. But it was a really good test for if our colleagues need assistance.

'We get these calls when there is a rush of calls because people are driving into flood water and getting stuck, things like that. So this is a good opportunity to remind people not to do that!

'When people do that, it means we have to send our firefighters in to rescue them and what people also don't realise, is that can mean wading in raw sewage from drains, so it can be dangerous.'

david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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