News story

Military to assist flood recovery work

Military personnel are to remain available to assist local authorities as efforts begin to move from flood relief to recovery work.

The Ministry of Defence has offered assistance to the civilian authorities leading the co-ordinating of support for communities and residents in affected areas.

The activity is expected to centre around key priorities aimed at providing emergency support, protecting national and local infrastructures and providing support and reassurance to communities.

Key tasks are likely to include emergency response, such as use of search and rescue helicopters and specialist vehicles, active flood defence work such as engineering and sandbagging, reviewing and repairing flood defences and the distribution of emergency supplies.

Soldiers erecting flood defences
Soldiers erecting flood defences alongside the River Thames in Staines [Picture: Corporal Richard Cave, Crown copyright]

The offer follows Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s announcement over the weekend that armed forces personnel will assist in the assessment of flood defences across the country.

More than 200 personnel will be trained by the Environment Agency to carry out the work over the next 6 weeks.

At the peak of the flooding, more than 5,000 personnel were committed to help with flood relief operations with thousands more troops remaining available if required.

Around 200 reservists have played a role as part of the deployment that has seen personnel from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force providing support.

Royal Marines
Royal Marines wade through a flooded street [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Rhys O'Leary, Crown copyright]

Major General Patrick Sanders, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations), who is co-ordinating the military response from the MOD in London, said:

Alongside the civilian authorities, our armed forces have played a significant role in the flood relief operation across affected areas of the country.

The efforts have been welcomed by members of the public who have been reassured by the presence and support of more than 3,500 service personnel in what has been an extremely difficult time for residents whose homes have been under water.

It will of course take time to return people’s lives to normal but as the flood relief efforts transition to a recovery stage the military will remain available to take on new tasks to assist in the clean-up operation being co-ordinated by the local authorities.

Current ongoing deployments include:

  • in Chertsey, Surrey, personnel from 19 Regiment Royal Artillery are assisting with the removal and redeployment of a 600-metre ‘Aquadam’, moving it from Chertsey to Kenley

  • a military presence remaining in Hampshire with a squadron of Royal Engineers constructing metal sheet barriers in an attempt to stem and divert the River Test around Romsey

  • following recces over the weekend and earlier this week, over 25 military personnel from 3rd (United Kingdom) Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment have been deployed on the Isle of Wight, providing assistance with general duties as required and helping individuals evacuate from their homes

  • Royal Engineers personnel continuing to carry out taskings at Chesil Beach in Dorset, repairing the beach sea defences

Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois helping soldiers from 7 RIFLES
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois helping soldiers from 7 RIFLES with the flood relief effort in Burghfield [Picture: Shane Wilkinson, Crown copyright]

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois said:

The military will continue to support flood relief efforts for as long as their help is required and that includes the next phase of the operation centred around recovery and clean-up work.

The government is committed to helping those affected get back on their feet and the armed forces will continue to play their part.