Flood rescues: where we have helped

The RNLI Flood Rescue Team was officially formed in 2000 as a result of our involvement with the Mozambique floods in February and March of that year.

The catastrophic flooding was caused by heavy rainfall that lasted for 5 weeks, killing hundreds of people and making thousands more homeless.

A team of eight, with six D class inflatable lifeboats, was deployed for search and rescue purposes and ended up providing humanitarian aid to some 10,000 people.

But RNLI lifeboat crews have been involved in flood rescues as far back as the 1930s.

In January 1937, after 12 days of gales and rain, the River Dee flooded, causing widespread damage and cutting off many buildings.

Our first international deployment was to Bangladesh to help with the major international flood relief efforts after the Bhola cyclone struck the country in November 1970. Around 500,000 people lost their lives and the tropical cyclone remains the deadliest ever recorded.

Since 2000, the RNLI Flood Rescue Team has formed a core part of the emergency response to flood-affected areas across the UK and overseas, including:

  • Guyana floods in January 2005
  • Summer 2007 floods in South Yorkshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire
  •  Morpeth floods in September 2008
  •  Cockermouth floods in November 2009
  •  St Austell floods in November 2010
  •  Aberystwyth and Borth floods in June 2012
  •  Stockton-on-Tees floods in September 2012
  •  St Asaph floods in November 2012
  •  Lostwithiel floods in December 2012
  •  Umberleigh floods in December 2012
  •  Rhyl floods in December 2013
  •  Llanbedr floods in January 2014
  •  Somerset floods in February and March 2014
  •  repeated storms and floods across the UK in December 2015 - the wettest month since records began.

First gallantry awards for flood rescue

Just 2 days before Christmas, Vanessa Glover and her family became trapped in flood waters in Umberleigh, Devon.

Vanessa’s husband and 7-year-old son managed to cling to the roof of their car but Vanessa lost her grip and was swept away by the torrent of flood water.

Braving the harshest of conditions in the pitch black darkness, our flood rescue volunteers were tested to the limit in their mission to save Vanessa’s life.

For their bravery, they were awarded RNLI Gallantry Awards – the first for our Flood Rescue Team.

See how we’ve helped in our flood rescue footage video gallery