Royal Marines build up Gloucester flood defences

Royal Marines have been shoring up the defences of Alney Island near Gloucester where a severe flood warning has been issued indicating a possible risk to life.

The Commandos from B Company 40 Commando, based at Norton Manor Camp in Somerset, helped civil agencies distribute 4,000 sandbags to the residents in vulnerable, high-risk areas.

The area hit the headlines in 2007 when the nearby River Severn burst its banks, and flood waters reached a height of almost six feet. According to Met Office figures between 15mm and 40mm of rain may fall in the area today accompanied by 50mph winds. Although there are flood defences in place the river level is now 4.45 metres high and rising, meaning it could spill over the defences.

We’re helping build additional defences to help protect the resident’s properties

Marine Robert Ousely, 40 Commando

We’re helping build additional defences to help protect the resident’s properties,” said Marine Robert Ousely - part of the team who battled freezing conditions to ensure the sandbags were placed before the swollen river could overflow into nearby streets.

“They’ve been great, bringing us mugs of tea and getting stuck in to help. We’re just glad we could lend a hand.”

Members of 40 Cdo have spent the last week helping flood-hit residents in their home county of Somerset, putting their skills and expertise to use in several villages across the saturated Somerset Levels.

The Marines will be joined in Gloucestershire by 100 troops from 43 (Wessex) Brigade, who are being sent from Tidworth in Wiltshire to join the relief effort.

Speaking on behalf of county authorities Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire City Council, said: “These military personnel are a helpful addition to the firefighters, council workers, Environment Agency staff and volunteer flood wardens who are working hard to protect homes and businesses in flood-affected areas.

“Their hard work is making a real difference.”

The Royal Navy is deployed across the South of England to provide much valued assistance to communities in and around Winchester in Hampshire and Somerset.

As part of the military response to the flooding crisis across the land, there are nearly 950 Royal Navy men and women on the ground helping affected communities: 340 from 40 Commando, 200 jointly from Collingwood and Sultan, and 200 apiece from the Fleet Air Arm’s principal bases at Yeovilton and Culdrose.

In addition, a further 1060 sailors and Royal Marines from across the Senior Service are on standby to intervene should the Government’s COBRA emergency committee require them.