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By Charles Walmsley
Response teams in Oxfordshire will be able to tackle flooding more effectively after receiving a grant of almost £10,000.
Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue (OxSAR) accepted £9,980 from The Big Lottery Fund on 23rd July to purchase twelve individual flood access kits and a ten man rescue raft.
The new equipment will allow the unit to deal with large scale floods and to explore waterways not accessible from the riverbank in missing person searches. Flood warnings have been issued in Oxfordshire as recently as May, while last month was the UK’s wettest June on record.
Oxforshire was last seriously affected in 2007 when flooding forced the evacuation of residents from Abingdon and Onsey and damaged 3,000 homes.
Volunteers have hailed the importance of these new funds. OxSAR Chairman Steve Butcher said: “The donation is critical to allow the unit to operate in water. The equipment increases the options we have during a vulnerable missing person search to effectively search watercourses.
“As part of the Assocation of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR), our national body, we can be called anywhere in the UK to assist with large scale flooding or to provide specialists in water search.
“Recently we deployed in Surrey to search several watercourses as we we’re the nearest available team with the training and equipment.”
OxSAR receives no form of statuary funding and relies on public donations to aid the 30 active volunteers in their rescue operations. Grants from organisations such as the Big Lottery Fund are therefore vital in both the successful upkeep of the organisation and the provision of equipment needed to perform search and rescue tasks.
Since April 2009 the unit has responded to 101 callouts, and they have joined the vital network of volunteer search and rescue groups in the Thames valley, aiding teams around the country in operations.