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7 March 2011, 12:33
A massive emergency exercise, being coordinated from Hampshire, starts today (7th March) to test responses to severe flooding.
As part of Operation Watermark, there'll be different scenarios around the country over the next five days, including a school evacuation and rescues from rooftops
10-thousand people, including the emergency services are taking part with RAF helicopters being scrambled. Ministers will even go to mock Cobra meetings. The command centre, which will show each mock emergency as it happens on large screens, is in Fareham.
Phil Rothwell from the Environment Agency says it was recommended after the floods back in 2007:
“The best preparation is preparation, when people understand the risk they’re at and the systems that we have to operate to try and keep them safe. We can’t do everything for everyone of course because these are natural disasters and they can strike virtually anywhere at any time”
It’s claimed Prince William might be taking part in the exercise, because RAF rescue helicopters, the squadron he’s part of, are involved.
Phil says they’d welcome his participation: “I know the RAF will play their part too so a royal appearance would be very welcome”.
Here are details of some of the places where exercises will take place:
Wednesday 9 March, Lincolnshire: Live evacuation of volunteer residents including a primary school.
Wednesday 9 March, Bala Lake (Wales): Simulated rescues will include rescuing casualties from the top of vehicles trapped in flood water and helicopter winching exercises by the RAF.
Thursday 10 March, Thames Barrier: There will be a routine test closure of the Thames Barrier. Nearby, demountable defences will be installed and sandbag walls constructed.
Thursday 10 March, Tattershall Lakes, Tattershall, LN4 4JG: Live flood water rescues by helicopter and boat from roof tops, submerged vehicles and caravans. HRH the Duke of Gloucester will be visiting from 1130.
Friday 11 March, Cardiff International White Water Centre: South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will be staging rescue operations from the centre.