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Rocket power to the rescue after floods 

11 January 2016

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has come to the aid of our Openreach engineers battling to restore flood-hit services.

Andrew Doig, Openreach operations manager, business connections, for the north of Scotland says: “An aerial cable across the River Dee at Ballater in Scotland was washed away on New Year’s Eve.

“There have been six engineers from business and corporate delivery and six from service delivery working together as one team since then to get it up and running.

“But we tried every contraption known to man – including fishing lines – but couldn’t manage to get a line across the 95 metre stretch of the river.”

Openreach engineers helping with flood relief

The RNLI came to the rescue with a speed line. It’s a rocket on the end of a rope and is a registered firearm. The RNLI fired the rocket to waiting personnel on the other side of the river, who tied it to a tree. The team is now working on a permanent fix and putting up new poles.

And there’s a royal twist to the tale. Some of our engineers have not been home since New Year’s Eve. Some are staying in local hotels, while others have taken up the queen’s invitation to stay at the royal Victoria Barracks close by.

“We’re being well looked after,” says Andrew. “But we’re looking forward to completing this task - and a second operation putting in temporary cables across the bridge at Invercauld - and going home.”

Andrew praised the “joined up approach” across our engineering teams, the emergency services, volunteers and the community. From the fire service pumping out manholes to people coming out with tea and coffee for the engineers, and engineers from utility company SSE allowing our teams use their catering truck.

We’ve set up a BT MyDonate page to collect funds for a nationwide appeal launched by UK Community Foundations to help all regions affected by the floods.