On the morning of November 19, Martin Pickavance was at work, teaching at Cockermouth School, when he got the call to say he would be needed to help with the flood response.

Now the chairman of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, Martin says he’s proud of the way his team, and the other emergency services, worked together for their community:

“In 2009 I was a relatively fresh face. I’d been with the team for three years.

“We knew what was going on in town, we knew the water levels were rising and I got a call from my team leader saying we were likely to be called out.

“It was about then the school was closed. I told my Head I needed to go, the school is very supportive of its staff on the rescue team, and within about five minutes I was at the base putting a dry suit on, personal flotation device, throw line, helmet and so on.

“For the first two hours I was out on Main Street putting out sandbags which retrospectively was just a pointless exercise. Two courses of sandbags on a street that ended up being five feet deep in water.

“At that point, though, the water was only ankle deep and people were trying to move their cars out of the way.

“We got a call that South Street was flooding so a team member and myself ran down there and ended up getting a lady in her 80s out of her house. The water was waist deep.”

That was the first rescue and from then the team were just flat out for 24 hours actively rescuing people.

“It was dark, there were cars and wheelie bins in the water, hazards everywhere,” he added.

“It was dangerous. A man from one of the rescue services fell down a hole in the road on South Street. He didn’t see it because of the water. He was completely submerged. Fortunately one of our guys was nearby and pulled him out.

“After twenty four hours I stepped out of the dry suit and somebody else put it on and I went home for four hours sleep. When I got home there were four families in our house.

“We were going for three days in the end but, however hard it was for us, I had dozens of friends who were out of their houses who had pretty much lost everything.”