Chief Constable spent weekend helping neighbour in Cumbria flooding

Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes ENGEMN00120131103172942
Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes ENGEMN00120131103172942

Despite being off duty, Lincolnshire’s chief constable Neil Rhodes found himself helping out in a third major flood in 10 years on Friday.

Mr Rhodes’ former role was as assistant chief constable for Cumbria Police and in January 2005, just three weeks into the role, he helped oversee the response to a flood which affected more than 1,800 properties in Carlisle.

Eight years later, in 2013, he helped oversee the emergency response to the December 5 floods in Boston which saw devestation across the town.

Now, while visiting friends in Cumbria on Friday, Mr Rhodes was again helping out, albeit while off duty, in the Cumbria floods which has seen thousands of people flooded out of their homes.

He told how he recieved a call at 11pm on the Friday evening from his former neighbours - and rushed over to help them bail out their back yard and some houses.

He said: “We had to punch a hole in the wall to relieve the pressure.”

Mr Rhodes was keen to stress that his role on Friday night and through the weekend was ‘very small really, helping for two or three hours’.

He added: “The incident we had though was nothing to what people elsewhere were experiencing.”

He later added: “It was no big deal to me to help out, the part I played in just helping some friends out was nothing to elsewhere in the area.

“When I see the pictures on the TV of the devestation there has been, I only played a very small part.”

Having continued to help his former neighbours with taking ruined items and debris to the tip, Mr Rhodes returned to this area on Monday morning, resuming his work at Lincolnshire Police.

He said: “Having been a police officer up there I almost felt I should be going back there and helping.

“It’s not much fun when you are knee deep in murky grey water when you know what that contains.”

Recounting his first experience of flooding in 2005, Mr Rhodes said: “It was three weeks after I started we had some realy significant flooding and watching events unfold over the weekend when I was up there visiting friends was really quite upsetting to see the troubles that people were having.

“I can remember our officers involved in rescuing people from upstairs windows in boats, and 10 years later here we are again.”

“The one thing I do recall about the time I spent in Cumbria was the enourmous community spirit there is. You don’t see that come to the front at any greater time than when a community is in peril.

“There’s no greater example than just a short time ago when we had the experience of flooding in Boston and saw people from all walks of life working together to rescue houses and possessions.”

He said he had not yet heard from any of his former colleagues in Cumbria, saying: “They are all very busy dealing with the situation. I was listening to some of the pople who I used to work with on the radio and I could relate to the position they were in because they are playing the same roles my officers were playing in the flooding along the East Coast.”

On dealing with emergency situations such as floods, Mr Rhodes said: “It just goes with the territory of working with the emergency services. As a police officer you just get used to helping people when they have got problems because that’s what we do. That’s our role.”