RNLI lifeguard helps rescue 69 people in New Zealand floods

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguard has been putting his lifesaving skills to use in New Zealand following devastating floods. 

Harry Barea was working for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand as a lifeguard on the North Island during the RNLI’s off-season when the city of Auckland declared a state of emergency after floods sparked chaos in late January.

The RNLI lifeguard and a team of volunteers set about saving 69 people from the raging flood waters with the help of their surf rescue boats.

Barea said: “Due to heavy rainfall and flooding, I received a call out from the flood rescue team at Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club to provide assistance and naturally I accepted the offer.

“As a team using the inshore rescue boats, we ferried 69 workers and shoppers from workplaces to safety that night. It was an honour to help the community during these unprecedented times.

“There was significant flooding damage in Wairau Valley – with abandoned cars, collapsed houses and panicked members of the public. With limited resources and zero experience in flood rescues, I used my initiative and adapted to the unfamiliar environment and challenges of operating at night with strong flowing currents.”

Barea has been an RNLI lifeguard in Newquay, Cornwall, for several years and travels abroad during the off-season to work as a lifeguard in the southern hemisphere.

Lewis Timson, lead lifeguard supervisor for the Newquay area, says: “It’s fantastic to hear that Harry has made such an impact with the surf lifesaving clubs in New Zealand.

“The training that RNLI lifeguards receive is world-class, and it just shows, as Harry has been able to make a significant impact in a short space of time. We’re all incredibly proud of him and his efforts to support the local community during such devastation, and we look forward to welcoming him back in the spring.”

The RNLI is currently recruiting lifeguards in the UK for the new summer season, and lifeguard experience manager Lee Fisher says: “Beach lifeguarding is a great opportunity and a very rewarding role that changes lives – including your own – all whilst enjoying the beach as your office. It’s a great opportunity whether you want a rewarding summer job or to pursue a career in lifesaving.”

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