FIREFIGHTERS, gritter crews, and carers have been praised as 'unsung heroes' after they gave up time over Christmas to tackle flooding, freezing temperatures and Storm Bella.

Within the response to the wild winter weather was a round the clock effort to grit roads and the evacuation of two care homes due to flooding.

Oxfordshire County Council's leader, Ian Hudspeth, praised the work of public service staff for their efforts over the Christmas period.

ALSO READ: Drone footage captures the extent of winter flooding in Abingdon

He said: “I want to express my gratitude to all our staff who came to the aid of residents in need of their help during what should have been a time of celebration. While Christmas was already affected by Covid 19 restrictions, scores of families had their festive period ruined by the impact of flooding on their homes."

He added: "I must also mention our staff who carried out preventative measures, to limit the impact and those behind the scenes who coordinated this huge response. They are all unsung heroes."

Ian Hudspeth

Adult social care and fire and rescue staff were called to a care home in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

The home needed to be evacuated after its ground floor flooded when a nearby river burst its banks. All its elderly residents – plus one cat – were found new accommodation together before the end of the day.

Karen Fuller, Oxfordshire's deputy director for adult social care, said: “The response from our staff was outstanding.”

Residents were first moved to the village hall where they were cared for throughout the day and provided with food and warmth, while their new accommodation was prepared at a new wing of a nearby care home.

The empty rooms were transformed into a functioning wing with the installation of beds, tailored equipment and some of the residents’ belongings.

Staff were called into action again on Christmas Day when another care home flooded and had to be evacuated. The residents have since been able to return to the home.

Between Christmas and the new year, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 70 flood related incidents, though many of these calls involved multiple properties.

ALSO READ: Warning to stay away from flooded towpath due to risk of falling in river

Around Christmas, Oxfordshire County Council set up a severe weather desk due to the number of flooding and wind related calls being received. During a six hour period, it received more than 40 calls about trees being blown down and numerous properties flooding that needed help.

A sharp drop in temperatures around Christmas Eve also brought the county council’s gritting teams into action. Sub-zero temperatures. mixed with the already wet and flooded roads, made both treatment and driving difficult in places.

Since Christmas Eve, the gritters have been out at least a dozen times, using nearly 2,500 tonnes of salt across 1,200 miles of treated network – a total length of road network treated during that period of more than 14,000 miles.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.