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Navigating floodwater in Yalding

Posted on 7 February 2014 04:54 PM by Hillm1R

England had its windiest December since 1969. I’ve worked as a field engineer for 16 years and have experienced bad weather and flooding. But when I got to Yalding, a village in Kent, I’d never seen anything like it. 

Yalding was severely flooded after torrential rain and prolonged high winds swept across the South East into the early hours of Christmas Eve. Many residents had to leave their homes as water poured in.

I arrived in Yalding the morning after the storm hit. The road which leads to the village was flooded and so were fields that contained the overhead electricity lines. The whole village was off power due to the storm damage.

I needed to reach two pole-mounted switches on overhead electricity lines in a field to reconnect supplies. To narrow down the point where a fault is on the electricity network we open and close switches in sequence.

Navigating floodwater
I had to navigate through the floodwater trying to reach the different parts of the electricity network. The last switch I needed to reach was in the middle of the floodwater which was by then probably up to chest height.

Locals were gathering around and were keen to know when the power would be back on. I explained that the switch I needed was in the flood water.

One of the local villagers said they knew a man that had a boat that would come to the rescue. I checked what sort of certification he had, whether there were life jackets and I discussed it with managers before accepting the offer.

Most unusual job I’ve ever done
I managed to operate the pole mounted switches from the boat with insulated rods. This got the majority of the village back on supply. This was definitely the most unusual job I’ve ever done and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it in a hurry!

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