A HOUSING repairs manager "worth his weight in gold" impressed colleagues and tenants with his quick-thinking response to December's floods.

Tom Lynch, of Kendal, is described as "an avid weather enthusiast" who leads storm-chasing tours to the American Midwest - and his instincts and expertise came to the fore as the Storm Desmond crisis unfolded.


Nominating Tom as a Flood Hero, John Mansergh, assistant director at South Lakes Housing, said: "This was a major incident for us and having a calming and knowledgeable leader at the helm allowed for a professional emergency response and quick recovery."

As the storm approached on the Friday, Tom had "a bad feeling" about the weekend and arranged a team to respond to potential flooding, explained John.

"Before he went home he looked at the weather models and said to me: ‘I think this is going to be worse than last time’. From Friday teatime onwards he kept monitoring the weather radar site."

Repairs operations manager Tom awoke at 4am on Saturday to check the level of the River Kent on the Environment Agency website, then phoned other colleagues and began deploying flood defences at high-risk locations from 7.30am. He also brought in office staff to cover the telephones to respond to incidents, and to direct people to reception centres.

Later that morning, Tom organised a team of South Lakes Housing maintenance workers to put sandbags in place and to respond to the surge of phone calls from anxious tenants.

As staff were deployed to Windermere, Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale, Sedbergh and two sheltered housing schemes, Tom kept a close eye on the office, helped with the sandbag effort, made sure staff were safe and kept residents up-to-date on Facebook. He also organised for elderly and disabled residents in Windermere to be evacuated by mountain rescuers.

"Tom repeated this effort the next day and every day for several weeks, ensuring that our workers got home clean and safe, and tenants got back home," said John.

Tom, 63, told the Gazette: "It was a torrid time and I still find it hard to believe it all. I had such a band of heroes here working with me because there were people who trudged in, sloshed in through a foot or two of water to get in to help."

Sixty-two South Lakes Housing homes were flooded last December, and 300-plus storm-related repairs brought the total bill to more than £2 million.

* Nominate your Flood Hero by emailing mike.addison@kendal.newsquest.co.uk