Somerset flood heroes help thousands in the Balkans

Somerset County Gazette: Tim Holmes and Mark Rosales. Tim Holmes and Mark Rosales.

TWO Somerset flood-relief volunteers joined emergency teams responding to the flooding that has swept the Balkans, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Brave FLAG (Flooding on the Levels Action Group) duo Tim Holmes and Mark Rosales flew out to Bosnia on Friday to assist with an international aid effort in Doboj.

The pair worked with non-profit aid and relief organisation Khalsa Aid and returned to the UK on Tuesday (May 27) night.

A second team from FLAG has since flown out to Belgrade.

Rebecca Horsington of FLAG, said: “The emergency phase for us is now over, while unfortunately they are in the middle of theirs, and the situations are very different.

“Ours was a long, slow burner that hung around for months.

“Theirs is sudden, and they had three months-worth of rain in two or three days which rushed through their homes, and now they’re left with the devastation.”

Speaking from Bosnia, Khalsa Aid’s chief executive, Ravi Singh, said: “I feel honoured by the love and respect from the people of Somerset.

“We are rebuilding homes for some of the worst hit homes. These people are living on the breadline.”

FLAG chair Heather Venn said Tim Holmes had “shone like a beacon across all the volunteers”.

“His skills were just amazing in terms of organisation”, she said.

“He’s been consistently brilliant right from day one.”

Mark’s girlfriend Sarah Hounsfield said: “It is dangerous, but I do understand why he was determined to go. I’m very proud of him.”

Twelve palettes of donated supplies, including baby clothes, food, and towels, were also packaged up by FLAG and sent in tandem with the Serbian Embassy.

Rebecca added: “As FLAG we are more than happy to help.

“It’s brilliant how the membership has reacted and pulled together.”

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