A Leeds firm is riding to the rescue of flood-hit communities in the south of England.
Cross Green-based HESCO Bastion is using techniques it normally employs to keep troops safe in war zones as it repairs flood defence breaches in and around the Somerset Levels.
Made from wire mesh and lined with tough fabric, HESCO’s force protection equipment has been pressed into action in every major conflict since the first Gulf war in 1991.
The same technology was adapted by the firm for the development of the rapidly-deployable flood barriers that are now helping beleaguered families in Somerset.
HESCO’s own engineers have been on the ground getting the barriers in position alongside experts from the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence.
Speaking from the Aller area of Somerset, HESCO’s Mike Pickup said: “Our technology has provided support and emergency relief during flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms throughout America for the last 10 years. This expertise, along with our 23 years of protecting our soldiers overseas, has prepared us for emergency response.
“Within 45 minutes [of the order being received] we had product on route to Somerset and we, the technical support team, followed the product to the flood site to immediately begin deployment.
“We have years of experience deploying these products in emergency situations and we at HESCO are pleased that UK residents are benefiting from using our barriers and can have the same confidence in HESCO protection products.” A typical wall of 1,500 sandbags can take 10 people up to seven hours to fill and build.
The same length and height of wall made from earth or sand-filled HESCO barrier kit can be put in place by two people in the space of just 20 minutes.
Severe flood warnings – meaning there is a danger to life – yesterday remained in force in the Somerset Levels and along stretches of the River Thames west of London.
Hundreds of military personnel have been drafted in to assist the worst-affected areas of south west England and the Home Counties.
HESCO Bastion was founded by the late Leeds philanthropist Jimi Heselden.
Mr Heselden grew up on the city’s Halton Moor estate and launched his firm after being made redundant in the 1980s.
Its success helped propel him into 2005’s Sunday Times Rich List with a reported fortune of more than £90m.
An accident claimed Mr Heselden’s life at the age of 62 while he was out riding a Segway two-wheeled scooter near Wetherby in 2010.