HELICOPTER crews from RAF Benson have joined in helping flood relief efforts in Oxfordshire.

And personnel from RAF Brize Norton have been packing sandbags to keep the flood waters at bay.

Puma and Merlin forces supported aid commanders on the ground by assessing the flood damage from the skies.

Two aircraft flew to a number of locations, including Shillingford and Wallingford, to carry out reconnaissance last Wednesday and Friday.

Flight Lieutenant Tim Barry, a pilot with 33 Squadron, said: “The task also helped identify those areas most at risk and in need of further aid.The Puma HC Mk2 was the perfect platform to carry out the reconnaissance tasks.

“Its increased fuel capacity and more efficient engines allowed the passengers on board an extended time to assess the various areas suffering from, and in danger of, flooding.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Military Personnel packing sandbags ready for distribution to households most in need

Both forces remain on standby for the next two weeks, which could be extended if rainfall continues.

Airmen and women from RAF Brize Norton have also been working alongside soliders from RAF Halton, in Buckinghamshire, to pack and ship sandbags.

They have been working at a depot in Chieveley, next to the M4 in Berkshire, and the sandbags will be distributed to households most in need.

Flight Lieutenant Dave Skinner, who is overseeing the operation, said they had filled more than 5,500 sandbags.

“I estimate we have approximately 100 tons of aggregate to pack and ship,” he said.

“When you consider that just six sandbags in a doorway can help save a house from a flood, our supporting efforts could lead to many hundreds of homes being saved.’’ The RAF Brize Norton crew arrived at the depot last Thursday at 7am.

They were split into two teams working alternate 30-minute shifts for 12 hours.