A fisherman and his friends have won plaudits across the Island, after voluntarily working around the clock to clear drains and hand out sandbags following last week’s storm.
Sam Loba, from Sandown, and his pals have been hailed as ‘heroes with capes’ on social media for coming to the rescue of Islanders desperate for help.
Unemployed Sam said: “It started on our fishing group chat with my friends. Fishermen all have wellingtons and waders and I suggested we should step in and help clear out blocked drains and they were all up for it. We completed our first stretch of drains where water was flooding the road at Simeon Rec, Ryde, in about 45 minutes and we carried on from there.
“There have been occasions where we have been shoulder-deep in water but have managed to clear out the drain and get the water flowing through it again.
“As the word got out, other Island businesses have stepped in to help us. Jamie Asher, of Reno Drains, has accompanied us and is an absolute hero, while Newport & Carisbrooke Community Council has offered to pay all of our fuel costs.
“Tesco duty manager, Michelle, gave us 500 bags to use as sandbags, while sand has been donated by Wight Building Materials.
“I have been liaising with Cllr Matthew Price, from Newport & Carisbrooke Community Council, who also runs Price’s Garage. He has donated money to help with fuel costs and organised for the location for the sand earlier in the week which was dropped at Seaclose Car Park ahead of Storm Ciaran.
“I would also like to emphasise that we do not want to be given any money; we are doing this solely for the community. We just wanted to lighten the load from Island Roads.”
Despite this, well-wishers organised a GoFundMe page to ‘buy the lads a drink’, but Sam says this money should go to people who have lost their homes.
Cllr Price added: “It is wonderful to see big-hearted Isle of Wight people supporting Island Roads staff with this rare event, and I thank Wight Building Materials for acting so quickly.”
Others involved in the rescue mission included Islanders Michael Sutton, Will Butler, Alex Gillies, Azzy Azinger, Jamie Webster, Ian Chappers, Jack Thomas and Martin Legg – the latter opening his home as a soup kitchen.
Any residents in need of help are asked to contact Sam via the Isle of Wight Community Information page on Facebook.