Army and RAF on New Year’s Eve mission to strengthen flood defences

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British Army soldiers and an RAF air crew have worked together on New Year’s eve to airlift more sandbags into a river breach just outside Croston, Lancashire.

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (2 LANCS) spent the morning preparing one tonne sandbags so they could be lifted by a Chinook CH47 helicopter and carried to a hole in the bank of the River Douglas.

The Environment Agency requested military aid to complete the work because floodwaters had made it difficult for their engineer to work on the site. It is the military’s third attempt at plugging the gap this week. On Tuesday The Chinook crew were able to reinforce the defences with 80 tons of sand, before the work had to be called off. Bad weather prevented further flights on Wednesday. The crew hope to complete the job today (THURSDAY) with a further Chinook CH47 helicopter 450 tonnes needing to be dropped.

On each flight, up to six bags, each containing one tonne of sand, are slung beneath the aircraft and carried from the Environment Agency depot near Croston, just over 1km away to the site of collapse. The powerful tandem rotor helicopter is the only way the material can be moved into place in the flood defences quickly.

Around 15 soldiers from 2 LANCS have been trained to rope and harness the bags correctly so they can be carried safely to the drop site. The Environment Agency hope the work will prevent a repeat of the floods, which have already hit 500 homes in Croston, a village 10 miles south of Preston.

Lieutenant Russ Pettitt, platoon Commander for the unit’s Arnhem Company, said: “Our guys have been helping the Army Air Corps team which loads the Chinook. Because of the scale of this lift, they needed more manpower to rope and prepare all the one tonne bags.

“We’ve been working on Operation Shaku throughout the North of England since early December through storms Fred, Desmond and Eva, and our aim throughout has been to assist all the civilian agencies involved. W want to help restore some normality to the people who have been affected by flooding, that’s why we’re here in Croston today.”

The Regiment has been deployed as part of Operation Shaku – the British Army’s ongoing response to widespread flooding across the country. Soldiers from 2 LANCS, which recruits from the North West of England, have already been deployed in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire in the past three weeks.

Source / Author: RAF

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