Rescuers were called to a flooded Tarxien office basement on Friday as the water almost reached the top of office desks, damaging much of the furniture and electronic equipment.
“We had to put a submersible pump in the basement and pump the water out of the office,” Alex Scicluna, a Civil Protection Department (CPD) officer explained.
Within a few hours, the CPD answered to 14 similar incidents, pumping out water from flooded basements in homes, offices and showrooms.
The department rescued 17 people trapped in their vehicles between Thursday and 6am on Friday. The CPD also dealt with a knocked-down billboard, uprooted trees and detached manholes.
Times of Malta followed CPD officers on three emergency calls on Friday, as the department worked round the clock to deal with the damage caused by the heavy rain and gale-force winds which caused havoc across the islands.
Preparations were made in advance for the oncoming storm.
“The control room in Ta’ Kandja is in constant contact with the Meteorological Office. They give us forewarning of an oncoming storm,” Kordin station officer Timothy Willie said.
“We work 24-hour shifts rotating over four groups, but when there is an alarm, we bring in officers from other shifts on overtime,” he said.
Volunteers and NGOs can also be roped in during a storm, Willie said.
As very strong winds battered the east coast in particular, the CPD was called to a Gżira building that had sustained structural damage.
Several stones were dislodged and at risk of crashing down four storeys onto the pavement.
A CPD rescuer mounted the turntable ladder on a fire engine to remove the danger from the edge.
“The stones are being removed by hand to minimise damage,” Willie said, as the operation was ongoing.
“Our aim is to remove the danger for people passing by.”
Some calls made to CPD are false alarms, however. One such call reported a fire in an apartment, but rescuers soon established the report was made up.
As the ambulance, two fire engines and police car left the scene, CPD officer Saviour Cassar said that despite no fires were traced, the building was still checked as a precaution.
Earlier this week, a team of 32 rescuers was sent to assist with the earthquake devastation in Turkey but the CPD is still fully operational in Malta, Willie said. That team of rescuers is due to be replaced by a second 32-man team in the coming days.
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