Hero dad Luke Hetherington put his own life at risk to help save families as the water rose more than waist deep around him during last week’s floods.
Luke, 29, waded through the surging water to pull Galgate residents, including a 12-month-old baby and other young children, from their flooded homes.
Luke Hetherington, whose own home in Oak Avenue, Galgate, was unaffected by the floods, spent several hours last Wednesday evening checking residents around the worst-hit areas of the village were safe.
Luke, who lives with his partner Claire Dale and their four-year-old daughter Isla, initially went to help relatives in Hala when the water started rising.
“I was on my way home from work when I heard that my partner’s cousin was getting flooded in Lentworth Drive,” he said.
“I got there about 6pm but it was too late, they already had more than a foot of water in the house.
“The floorboards were lifting up and everything was floating.”
Luke helped the family – a couple, their 18-month-old baby and the baby’s auntie – out of their house and to safety further down the road.
He also helped their elderly neighbour to protect his home.
“I had to act fast,” he said. “There was a council van with some sandbags and so me and my cousin got some of them and took them to one of the hosues, where an elderly man was inside, and put them at the front and back doors.
“I told him to charge his phone and keep it next to him in caser the power went, and then called the police and asked them to check on him.”
Luke then set off for his home in Galgate, where he was confronted by even worse flooding.
“I got as far as the crossroads in Galgate and there was a river of water coming towards me,” he said. “I parked up at the New Inn and walked over to the fish and chip shop.
“Someone in there mentioned a woman of about 85 who they thought was still in one of the houses by the river. We rang for the fire brigade but we couldn’t risk leaving her.
“By then the water was just above my belt. I couldn’t get her front door to open so I tried her side door before I was told she had been evacuated.”
Luke then crossed the road to help a family of eight – including a baby who was a year old that day – from their flooded home.
“The fire brigade had just turned up but I didn’t know how fast the water was rising and I knew we had to get them out as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I got their front door open and the water just rushed into the house.
“We formed a human chain of three firefighters and me, all holding each other, and led the family out of the house.”
Luke then checked on more residents along the street, and helped another family – including a young boy of 12 or 13 and a four-year-old girl – to safety.
“I was just knocking on doors to see if people were OK,” he said. “In one house I could see a little girl crying her eyes out, and so we formed a chain to lead her and her family out and to their car further up the road.”
Luke, who works in Ellesmere Port as a site supervisor for engineering firm VolkerStevin, said his heroic behaviour was a natural response to the circumstances.
“I think what helped me was I that have been part of the incident support service at work and I worked in flood defences for 11 years around the north west.
“I just did it without thinking. I knew we couldn’t wait any longer to help some of them – I don’t know what would have happened to some of them if we hadn’t got them out quickly.
“It has been good to see the community coming together well; everyone is helping out where they can.”