A 22-year-old teaching assistant is being hailed as a hero in Padiham, Lancashire, after organising rescue teams after the Boxing Day flood devastated the centre of the town.
Jordan Taylor who was born in the town was so shocked by the extent of the floods that with a couple of friends he posted a note on Facebook saying that he would be in the town centre the next morning ready to help in the recovery.
He asked for anyone interested in helping to bring shovels and cleaning materials and meet outside the Santander Bank at 9.30am. Twenty volunteers turned up and as the day wore on they were joined by another 130 with more piling in to help in the days that followed.
“We were given access to homes and shops to get rid of the water and begin the cleaning process,” he said. “I was absolutely bowled over by the number of people who turned up.
“Fortunately for many it was a holiday time so we were free to spend long hours helping.”
Because of the risk of more flooding as rain continued to charge the fast-flowing River Calder, volunteers working for construction companies brought sand and the team created makeshift sandbags using pillow cases, recycling bags, and even duvets.
“There was no proper professional help and the council did not seem interested even though the town hall had been flooded,” he explained. “We were never allowed in to clean that up – we were told they would get professional help, something few of the other homes and businesses were offered.”
The team cleaned out the ground floor of the town’s medical centre while medical work shifted to the first floor. “We had to sweep out the water, lift the old flooring and pressure wash the walls and floor,” he continued.
Jordan, who was born in the town and still lives with his parents, added: “I love my town and could not see so many people in such trouble without doing all I could to help.”
Some pupils and staff at St Leonard’s Church of England Primary School, where he works, were also affected by the disaster, although the school was safe, being on a hill.
The work continues as others have set up a resource centre for those who lost belongings to get replacements, and others try to establish an official support fund.
The rescue operation brought all ages together.
“We knocked on the door of one old gentleman who refused any offer of help for a few days. Finally he allowed us in and we were able to refurbish the ground floor. He was a wonderful man, a war veteran who had done his service for his country. Now he has a whole group of new friends who pop in a deliver meals or take him to a nearby cafe for tea and cake – all they are allowed to sell after the cafe was flooded,” said the young hero.
Shy and diffident about his own part in the operation Jordan was keen to praise the volunteers. But, as the Mayor of Padiham pointed out, there were many homes and businesses which owe their resurgence to Jordan and his team as town spirit came to the fore.