Posted: Monday 5th March 2018
Thank you does not even come close to how grateful I, and undoubtedly the communities of Avon and Somerset, feel for the way our emergency services have helped Storm Emma come and pass as smoothly as possible these past few days. When the country received the initial weather warnings from the Met Office, it’s always hard to image the full extent of a potential storm – especially when we appear to be experiencing such a mild winter.
Following the announcement of a ‘red’ weather alert on Thursday morning, I am grateful to those of you who heeded the Constabulary’s advice to stay in the safety and warmth of your home. In addition to the day-to-day policing business, such adverse weather conditions add a whole new element of keeping people safe on our roads. I know many spent the night in their cars on the A303 or elsewhere across the patch, despite the emergency services best efforts to get you home.
It never fails to amaze me however how people in times of hardship and challenge pull together; putting their personal needs aside to help others. The examples of individual and team resilience have been second-to-none and just show the love and care of the people across our communities. To name but a few examples:
- We had members of the Constabulary’s Communications teams and IT support teams, who held the fort at Police and Fire HQ and other sites, taking your calls and mobilising those officers and staff who were on the ground. They even spent nights on site, to ensure they would be here the next day to continue offering their invaluable support.
- We had operational support teams from Avon and Somerset Police, Avon and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services, South West Ambulance Service, Highways England and the National Police Air Service - up and down the M5 corridor and covering all the roads in between, ensuring they remained clear, safe and secure when the storm was at its worst.
- Corporate Communications worked relentlessly to share the quick-changing nature of the storm, its effect on our community and the multi-agency response to what was happening, making sure this was shared far and wide with the community, partners and the media.
- I’ve seen plenty of videos of our local neighbourhood policing teams, mucking in to clear out the snow from people’s driveways, police stations and other public buildings to help those who had to make those vital and necessary journeys. I’ve seen one or two of a snowball fight and snowman building which look like great fun too!
- Many of our local charity, community and voluntary groups came out in force too – Wessex 4x4 Response and the Rapid Relief Team among others – who without your help we could not have got people to where they needed to be and could not have kept them going once they were there.
- Finally, you, the community. I have never seen such community spirit which manifested in many ways including: in people giving lifts to others to get them to their elderly family; people offering to collect groceries for all the neighbours in their street and people clearing public roads and driveways in a bid to combat the snow.
Just as quickly as the storm came, it appears to have gone again and the snow as almost all thawed. However, the images and examples of sheer persistence, determination and enthusiasm to keep our communities safe will stay with me for a very long time. I hope this is the last of the bad weather we will see for some time, but feel reassured that if and when it does rear its ugly head again, we have a stronger community who can clearly cope with all it has to throw at us!