Incident 98/2015 – Major flooding event on Riverside Drive, Prestolee, Kearsley, Bolton

Whilst assembling at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ to standby at the request of NWAS Greater Manchester Area, on this Boxing Day of stormy weather, at 11.41hrs, GMP contacted our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, for the team to respond to a very serious flooding incident, affecting a large number of properties in the Riverside Drive area of Prestolee, Kearsley, Bolton.

IMG_3081GMP informed further that no GMFRS resources were immediately available due to other tasking’s, on this day that was already beginning to stretch and test the Greater Manchester Emergency Services.

In torrential rain, and once more members had arrived, the team departed our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ at 12.08hrs, arriving at the Prestolee area at 12.20hrs, with the River Irwell almost touching the underside of Church Road Bridge, way above its normal flow height.

Turning in to Riverside Drive, our responding members were met with an inundated housing estate, alongside the River Irwell, with residents cars already partially (and some totally) submerged.

027Some immediate rescues and self rescues had already taken place, with team members immediately involved in ‘dynamic rescues,’ including wade rescues, whilst others speedily launched our SAR Boat, which commenced further rescues from flooded properties.

Our Incident Control Vehicle became the focal point for the joint GMP / Bolton MRT rescue effort, with listings being compiled of those residents requiring evacuation.

A GMFRS Pump Appliance arrived next, with its crew lending their assistance.

A female resident with a medical condition had to be stretcher evacuated from her property to an NWAS Emergency Ambulance, via the rabbit warren of rear gardens, as flood waters over 5 foot deep were preventing any vehicular access.

022In order to safely and quickly evacuate this lady, whilst avoiding the flood waters, a number of adjoining residents took out or broke down their high garden fences to allow us access and egress.

Thanks are expressed to three members of the public who kindly assisted us with this stretcher evacuation.

With a rapidly developing flooding situation, and at this early stage a still unknown number of persons requiring evacuation, at 12.53hrs we called out Cheshire SART to assist us, who were already on heightened standby.

By 13.45hrs, all known persons requiring evacuation had been taken from their flooded properties to a place of safety, by Bolton MRT members using our SAR Boat.

003At this stage a GMFRS Rescue Boat arrived on scene, and commenced further checks of properties.

By 15.00hrs, Cheshire SART arrived on scene, just as all emergency vehicles were moved from Riverside Drive, to the higher point of Church Road at its junction with Market Street, alongside the Grapes Public House, as there was a real worry that all the responding emergency vehicles might become trapped by rising river water – thankfully after we all moved, the river level actually dropped slightly.

Cheshire SART then commenced deployments in the local area, checking out other nearby properties, in answer to a considerable number of calls for assistance from nearby concerned members of the public, as the flood waters started to threaten their properties.

018By circa 15.30hrs all the GMFRS assets on scene departed for other priority tasking’s, whilst the Bolton MRT and Cheshire SART remained on scene, with a considerable GMP presence, in case of further need.

The Bolton MBC responding ‘On Call Officer,’ did a sterling job keeping residents informed and advised as to what help was coming and what to do immediately, whilst the local Church opened up to provide shelter, and a rest centre.

Just after 16.00hrs it was established there was little else required from a rescue perspective, and we began to pack away our kit used, in readiness for other possible deployments elsewhere as the rain once again commenced.

011At circa 16.30hrs in a mixed Bolton MRT / Cheshire SART convoy, we departed to attend another priority tasking (see Incident 99)

During our time at Riverside Drive, we would like to make mention of an appropriately equipped and experienced young man who assisted us with water rescues and checks on flooded properties.
With utter devastation all around and all too obvious to see, and a great many totally flooded properties, with many families made immediately homeless, we were humbled at the thanks we were receiving from so many we had assisted and also from the general public present witnessing our efforts.

Throughout it was heartening at what should have been after all a happy festive time of the year, to see so many kind local people offering help, and there was no shortage of offers of sandwiches and hot drinks, from local residents, not just to us the emergency responders, but also to other members of the community rallying around to help in whatever way they could.

IMG_3092zoomOur records show that we in Bolton MRT directly rescued 14x persons, 1x Dog (evacuated from a flooded property in a wheelie bin – as was at least one person!) 4x cats and a budgie!

At least two of those rescued had medical conditions warranting being taken to Hospital by Emergency Ambulance.

A further additional 14x persons were checked upon, but wished to remain in their flooded properties.

Regardless of who and what we in Bolton MRT did, this was truly a multi agency / multi team rescue incident, with all agencies present, MRT / SART / Fire / Police / Ambulance / Local Authority, working seamlessly together to assist this stricken community.

005From all of us at Bolton Mountain Rescue Team, we extend our thoughts to all at Riverside Drive affected by these terrible events of Boxing Day, and we hope that the path to recovery will be a quick one.

During the latter stages of our involvement in this incident, team member Diane Blakeley present in our Control Vehicle, received a telephone call that her Bradshaw home was at risk of imminently flooding.

Colleague team member Phil Horner took her home, and along with neighbours moved furniture and other items upstairs.

Thankfully the surrounding waters did not enter her home, and she returned with Phil later to partake in our Incident 99.

015The following resources were directly involved at this incident during the ‘rescue phase’;

  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; 22x operational members, 4x Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, Ford Transit Minibus Ambulance, VW Crafter van based Incident Control Vehicle, 3.4m semi rigid inflatable SAR Boat, 6x large canoes.
  • Cheshire Search and Rescue Team; 18x operational members, Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger Ambulances, Control Vehicle and Incident Support Vehicle, 1x inflatable SAR Boat, 1x inflatable rescue sled.
  • GMFRS; 1x Pump Appliance with a Watch Manager and four crew from Stockport Community Fire Station (actually on relief standby at Bolton Central Community Fire Station) 1x Water Rescue Unit Appliance and Rescue Boat / with supporting Pump Appliance, all from Heywood Community Fire Station.
  • GMP; Numerous Divisional Officers and vehicles, at least two full Tactical Aid Units with vehicles, Senior Officers in the role of ‘On Scene Incident Commanders.’
  • NWAS Greater Manchester Area; 2x Emergency Ambulances and their crews, 1x Operational Area Manager / Paramedic in a Rapid Response Vehicle.
  • Bolton MBC; 1x On Call Emergency Officer / Civil Contingencies Unit.