They are the "unsung heroes" in Norfolk and Suffolk who provide vital support in all types of emergencies

Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response has 60 volunteers who will react quickly to any emergency call-outs to people stuck and needing help in remote locations.

And as the recent storms and high levels of flooding across the region showed, the volunteers have proved their worth yet again to embattled communities.

The floods also showed how the organisation is using new alternative types of sandbags to tackle the aftermath of devastating floods.

FloodSax are vacuum-packed in bags of five and resemble large pillowcases before they are immersed in water.

Events co-ordinator Rob Hawley said: “The FloodSax are space-saving to store and so lightweight to transport we can just chuck a box or two each containing 20 in the back and away we go.

“I was with a similar response organisation in the past which tried to take old-style sandbags out to people during emergencies but it took so much manpower to lift and transport them anywhere and we need trailers hitched to our vehicles.

Then the trailers are so heavy they were likely to sink in any mud too.

“At the moment we have 200 FloodSax at our central emergency store in Bungay 15 miles from Norwich and another 40 or so spread throughout the counties.”

So far volunteers have attended 400 callouts this year and with members driving around 20,000 miles on urgent mercy missions.

The team has an average response time of just 37 minutes and the quickest response was a mere 11 minutes.

READ MORE: Aerial images show flood water encircling market town after Storm Ciarán

Mr Hawley said: “Our remit is to preserve and protect human life and property by providing equipment, vehicles and other resources to offer support in adverse conditions.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response events co-ordinator Rob Hawley with a pack of 5 FloodSaxNorfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response events co-ordinator Rob Hawley with a pack of 5 FloodSax (Image: Submitted)Beccles & Bungay Journal: Homes near Bungay on the BRINK of flooding after Storm BabetHomes near Bungay on the BRINK of flooding after Storm Babet (Image: Mike Page)

“Some days we can be transporting critical NHS staff or medical supplies in the snow or maybe helping transport firefighters to coastal flooding areas."

READ MORE: Divers inspect structure of town's footbridge at river beauty spot after floods

He added: “Flooding has been a real issue this year and will continue to be in the future which is why it’s so important we are prepared for it.

"We had a call from a couple of nurses recently after their car conked out in a huge puddle.

“It would have taken hours to get them recovered and the vehicle pulled clear of the water but we were there within an hour.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Earsham surrounded by flooded fieldsEarsham surrounded by flooded fields (Image: Mike Page)

"When it rains in Norfolk and Suffolk, many back roads become impassable.”

READ MORE: Life at flooded Norfolk Broads pub the Geldeston Locks


Beccles & Bungay Journal: The flood water at Earsham and Bungay after Storm BabetThe flood water at Earsham and Bungay after Storm Babet (Image: Mike Page)