Floods special: Emergency response made such a huge difference

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Harry Briggs, Scarborough Council’s Recycling and Waste Enforcement Manager, was one of those working behind the scenes when the borough was plunged into chaos.

He said: “The day started out as any normal day does for the team, investigating fresh enforcement cases, processing responses from members of the public and booking in waste removals. However this soon changed with a phone call asking all staff to suspend non-urgent work and move on to sandbag production and distribution. We were also all asked if we could potentially stay behind after work to help with on-going delivery of sacks and act as council representatives in various locations. This meant making arrangements for childcare and someone to walk the dog!

“At approximately noon with wellies on, we set off with two pallets of sandbags up to Staithes and to Scarborough South Bay. We then set about distributing these, advising residents and visitors about rest centres and precautions should their property flood and then trying to keep warm. The storm surge was less damaging in Staithes than feared, few properties were flooded and one small boat sunk after being moored too tight.

“Another important duty was keeping the emergency command centre, based at the Town Hall in Scarborough, informed of our progress and the situations we were facing on the ground. Crucially, this information allowed our office-based colleagues to plan the different stages of the response and ensure that appropriate resources were being deployed where they were needed.

“At 10pm we set off home 
after fourteen and a half hours at work to return at 2am in preparation for the next tide; this was again less forceful than expected.

“However, Scarborough South Bay took more of a battering this time, which kept us very busy and made us realise that sandbags are no match for the extreme forces of Mother Nature.

“All in all it was a tough 36 hours with the team working for the majority of that time, but I believe we did our best by pulling together and working alongside the other organisations that were part of the overall emergency response.”