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Essex officer flies to Serbia to assist in flood relief

Essex Fire Officer Terry Webb has flown to Serbia as part of an EU Civil Protection team called in to provide emergency assistance following severe flooding.

Torrential rains began on  April 13 and have caused severe flooding in the north-east and central parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and in Serbia. According to local media reports, the floods are the worst since records began 120 years ago.

On May 15, the authorities of both countries declared states of emergency. Overall, five people have reportedly died, three in BiH and two in Serbia and two people have been reported missing. Thousands of people are trapped in their houses awaiting evacuation and many areas remain under water, physically cut off and without electricity.

In Bosnia, large landslides occurred in the night of May 15 and several cities and villages remain without electricity and water supply. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in 14 municipalities, including Doboj, Maglaj, Brcko District, Olovo, Bijeljina, Lukavac, Kladanj, Srebrenica, Gradacac and Zvornik.

In response to a request from the Government for international support, the EU activated its Civil Protection Mechanism.

Divisional Officer Terry Webb, a member of the UK International Search and Rescue team, flew to Serbia at the end of last week. Here, reports indicate that 6,175 people have been rescued. However, at least 115,000 households remain without electricity and the supply of food and water to affected areas is very difficult. Critical infrastructure systems have been severely affected, though the main traffic arteries are operational.

Croatian authorities are also on high alert, amidst fears that the Sava river may overflow and cause floods in the east of the country. Weather forecasts predict that rainfall will continue for the next two days.

DO Webb, Southend has extensive experience of working as part of international rescue teams overseas - his last emergency deployment was to Cebu and Tacloban in the Philippines in the aftermath of the devastating cyclone Haiyan. He was also part of EU rescue teams in Turkey and Haiti. He also travelled to Sumatra with members of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service's USAR team as part of an international search and rescue contingent.

He has now deployed to Serbia as the Team Leader for the EU Civil Protection team working with colleagues from Germany, Sweden and Norway. The main role of the team will involve close working the authorities of Serbia and coordinating the incoming assistance being provided by other EU member states.

On Sunday, DO Webb, who is based in ECFRS' East Command, reported: "Arrived early hours Belgrade with seven strong team, one to join us today. Later today we are hoping to meet with Head of EU delegation in Serbia and attempt to establish a foothold."

 

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