If you see one of these chaps over the next few days,buy them a pint! They are part of a team of council workers and volunteers who have shovelled thousands of tonnes of sand into over 10,000 sandbags and distributed them to householders across the district since the floods began last week.
Operation Sandbag got underway as the first rainstorms hit Somerset on Wednesday November 21. That day 2,653 sandbags were distributed to homes in danger of flooding, with 2,871 on Thursday. Numbers fell slightly as the weather eased on Friday with 1,795 issued, while Saturday saw 1,843 given out, with 846 on Sunday November 25.
Staff from Taunton Deane’s direct labour organisation worked through Wednesday and Thursday night and until 4am on Sunday in a bid to get as many sandbags out as possible. Their efforts mean there are now 4,000 bags in reserve in case the situation worsens again.
Council workers were helped by a 12-strong team of volunteers, members of the Plymouth Brethren Church which has a Rapid Response Team to help in emergencies. They got stuck in to filling some of the thousands of sandbags at the DLO depot in Taunton.
Spokesman Tom Martin said: “Our team is there to help support emergency services in whatever way we can, providing food and drink or, in this case, filling sandbags. We have an enthusiastic young team and I think they filled about 1,500 bags through the day.”
Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Council, expressed his thanks to all staff and volunteers – and expressed his sympathies to those who suffered flooding
“This was one of the worst floods in living memory in Somerset and the West Country with torrential rain falling between Wednesday and Sunday.
“I can only say a very heartfelt thank you to our staff and to those volunteers who helped as well – that is what being part of the community means. Words of gratitude can seem inadequate in these circumstances but I am sure that there are a lot of householders across Taunton Deane who would echo those thanks to a great team that has done so much to help their community.”