A new “emergency service” for Sutton Bridge and other villages that will provide back-up to police, fire and ambulance, is now operational.
Father Jonathan Sibley, chairman and co-ordinator of The Suttons and The Wash Emergency Planning Group, said Lincolnshire County Council had decided the group can go live following months of preparation.
It will serve Sutton Bridge and Long Sutton, Lutton, Tydd St Mary and Gedney.
Boxes containing things like yellow jackets, wind-up torches and first aid essentials will be kept at The Curlew Centre in Sutton Bridge and other centres.
District and parish councillor Michael Booth, a farmer, is the group’s chief flood warden and he has a small army of contacts who have equipment such as generators, tractors and trailers.
At the height of the east coast tidal surge of December 5, 2013, when water threatened to overtop the banks of the Nene in Sutton Bridge, Mr Booth said his village had been “two inches from disaster”.
Given that near miss – and recent scenes in Cumbria and Yorkshire – Mr Booth says it would be quite wrong for people to believe it couldn’t happen here and it makes sense to have a plan of action and trained volunteers.
During the tidal surge threat, Mr Booth was one of a team of parish councillors trying to deliver sandbags to homes in Lime Street and says their job was made more difficult as sightseers crowded in.
He said: “There were (sightseers’) cars parked everywhere and we just couldn’t get to the houses that needed them.”
Now the emergency group is up-and-running, he says they can ask police for their consent to close the roads. Once they have the police OK they can just go ahead and do it if it is “in the public interest”.
Mr Booth said there was little interest in an emergency group in Sutton Bridge until the village was threatened by the tidal surge.
But then volunteers came forward and Sutton Bridge decided to join forces with Long Sutton because its emergency planning was at a more advanced stage.
He stressed the group’s role is to assist the emergency services when requested and not to take their place.