RRT Support St Jude’s Storm Clean Up
On Monday 28th October 2013 the Rapid Relief Team (RRT) was deployed by the emergency services to clear trees from blocked roads in the London area, due to the storm known as St Jude, sweeping through Britain with battering winds and rain, recording speeds of up to 82mph.
The RRT are a dedicated group of volunteers, who are tasked to support and assist the public in times of need. RRT members are located throughout the country, and are all members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC).
At least four people were killed as result of St Jude’s hurricane-force winds which overwhelmed the UK, leaving a trail of destruction and damage in their wake, mostly in the south of the country.
Weather forecasters predicted wind speeds in excess of 80mph; a maximum of 12 on the Beaufort scale. The strongest recorded wind on land was witnessed at Langdon Bay, Kent, measuring 82mph. The second fastest wind was in Andrewsfield, Essex, at 79mph followed by Manston, Kent, at 70mph.
Following advance severe storm warnings, the RRT prepared teams of volunteers equipped with chainsaws, 4×4 vehicles, trailers, chippers and emergency supplies of food and drink. When the Police contacted the RRT at approximately 08.30hrs on Monday 28th October, the teams were primed and ready to assist.
The RRT worked hard throughout the day, moving from one location to the next, clearing blocked roads of strewn trees and debris and ensuring traffic could pass safely.
Residents in Hertfordshire were enthused and appreciative, speaking of the RRT’s efforts and their “professional and friendly manner.” The RRT and their voluntary work opened up the roads, allowing essential access to vulnerable elderly residents and emergency service vehicles.
The emergency services requested further support from the RRT at 17:00hrs, and the volunteers willingly continued to work into the night.
The RRT was also readily available to serve refreshments to the emergency services after the occurrence of a fatal gas explosion in Hounslow, caused by a fallen tree. One of the police officers spoke of the team’s great efforts: “I know you didn’t get to hear the thanks, but I can tell you that about 20 to 30 officers and fire-fighters had a smile put on their faces and they thanked you without your knowledge. I echo that thanks.
St Jude’s Storm left many devastating effects across the south of the country, including:
• A crane near Downing Street fell onto the Cabinet Office, causing Nick Clegg to cancel a press conference due to be held there.
• Dungeness B nuclear power station shut down both of its reactors after storm debris caused a loss of power.
• Virtually no trains in the south of England ran during rush hour, with severely limited service afterwards.
• 220,000 homes suffered power cuts as winds in excess of 80mph battered the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England.
• More than 130 flights were cancelled from Heathrow Airport and four at Gatwick Airport, with the Gatwick and Stansted Express train services cancelled.
• The Port of Dover had to shut and ferries en route from France, carrying over 450 people, were forced to wait at sea.