My week: Christian Hulme, Royal Engineer captain on flood rescue duty in Gloucestershire

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The Independent Online


I arrive very late tonight in Gloucester. I have seen some of the floods on TV, but I'm still shocked. The water is thigh-high; it's dark and I'm travelling through what seems like a ghost town. When I get to the Walham power station I can see that the fire service is pumping the water out as much as it can. The Environment Agency has put up some temporary flood barriers. I have a look around and work on until 4am to be well prepared for my troops who will be arriving in a few hours.


At 6.30am my troops arrive and I start communicating with the military cell in the Gloucester police headquarters. Later, I fly over Gloucester in a helicopter to get an aerial view of the area and to find out what the focal points are. The banks of the river Severn and the river Avon haveburst and merged into one large river, which has damaged the Mythe water treatment plant. Because of this, people don't have fresh water so it's essential that the water plant is sorted as soon as possible. Back on the ground, there are soldiers sandbagging. Luckily, the water levels are going down.


I'm relieved to find out that the water at the Mythe water treatment plant has dropped by half a metre. In the meantime, everyone is working very hard to empty the deep water tanks so that the public can get fresh water again. I'm impressed by the way that the civilian authorities and the Army are working together. The community spirit is fantastic. Throughout the day, I travel back and forth from the Mythe water plant to the Walham power station to make sure both these essential sites are looked after. This afternoon the Prime Minister visits the Walham power station to thank everyone for the work they have done.


It's still early this morning when my troops start to strip the temporary flood barrier at the power station. I'm finally starting to receive the material to start building the permanent flood barrier. I also need to find out if it is feasible to build this wall. It's raining a little, but the water is not rising.


It's all really happening this morning: the Royal Engineers, the RAF and the civilian authorities are all helping out to build the wall around Walham power station. It's going to take another two or three days, but it's going well. It's been amazing to go from a feeling of shock on Monday to a feeling of reassurance and achievement by the end of the week.

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