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Bridgwater taxi drivers help support families during floods
TWO taxi drivers from Bridgwater battled howling winds and driving rain to support seven Somerset residents whose homes were hit by flooding.
Bob and Jeff Weston, who have each run a taxi firm in the town for more than 30 years, are both Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support (FES) volunteers.
Bob, of Broadway Taxis, and Jeff, of H Cabs, used their local knowledge of back roads to provide support to a pensioner in Crewkerne and six residents of two houses in Illminster, after their homes were inundated by flood water late on December 23.
At the request of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Bob and Jeff were initially called to support a man in his 80s who was being cared for by neighbours after flood water from a nearby culvert entered his home.
Bob said: “The emergency pager went off at 12.50am. We proceeded very carefully in high winds and driving rain. It was absolutely horrendous and going up the motorway the FES vehicle was being buffeted about, so we had to go very slowly.
“We both had our eyes peeled because water was coming off the fields going straight across the road.
“By the time we got to the gentleman in Crewkerne all the flood water had gone but his power sockets weren’t safe to use so we gave him an old-fashioned corded phone that would still work and made sure he would be safe and warm for the night.
“He had family living nearby, so giving him the phone meant we knew he would be able to call on their support the next day.”
After being with the man for an hour, they began the journey home - only to come across crews from the fire and rescue service pumping water away from two homes in Illminster.
The brothers were in the right place at the right time to bring the evacuated residents into their specially-adapted FES vehicle.
Bob added: “In the road there was 2ft of water and rising which was just about to go into two homes, so we supported six residents of the houses in our vehicle while the fire service pumped the water into a nearby ditch.
“A couple of them were still in their pyjamas so we got everyone warmed up and gave them cups of coffee and the chance to talk about how they were feeling and about claiming on their insurance.
“A lot of people are just happy to talk and our role is to listen and help people come up with their own action plan, which helps people to get through the crisis because they can decide what to do next.”
Fire and emergency support volunteers are active in Somerset all year round, providing a range of practical and emotional support to people during emergencies.
For more information, visit www.redcross.org.uk/getreadyforwinter.
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