Civilian aid group Team Rubicon work with volunteers from Islamic charities to provide assistance to flooded towns in Cumbria

Civilian aid group Team Rubicon work with volunteers from Islamic charities to provide assistance to flooded towns in Cumbria Photo: PA

Dozens of armed forces veterans have volunteered to help flood-hit communities in North Yorkshire recover by clearing up damage and assisting the elderly.

Nearly 50 veterans, based in Tadcaster, are helping clear houses, fill sandbags and co-ordinating the community response to the disaster.

They are working for a charity called Team Rubicon, which is based on a similar initiative in the US.

General Sir Nick Parker, the former head of the army, said that veterans represent a a “fantastic national asset”.

He said: “The main thing is to get groups of disciplined men and women who can act well in an emergency, respond in conditions which others may find difficult.

“People who can fill sandbags at times of difficulty, empty houses. Ex servicemen are excellent at that type of thing.

The key thing is that they have got proper organisation, that they don’t become part of the drama themselves.”

Matt Fisher, team leader at Team Rubicon, said: “I was with 3 Rifles served in Afghanistan in 2009 and I got shot in Boxing Day in the ankle and I had my foot amputated a year later.

“It is very easy for veterans to leave the forces and lose their way in life and normal life can seem a bit more boring, so actually we’re getting something out of this as well. We’re a volunteer organisation who’ve come to together to help people who are more in need than we are.”

Volunteer Paul Taylor, who left the Army four years ago after 26 years with the Royal Fusiliers, said: “I’ve worked in remote environments, led teams. What this gives you is a real sense of purpose. That is what I get out of it. It’s nice to help people.”

The community effort comes as up to 80mm of rain is expected to fall on already water-logged ground tonight and tomorrow as Storm Frank comes in from the west later.

The weather warning from the Met Office also includes wind with gusts of up to 60mph expected.

Questions continue to be asked about the levels of government spending on flood defences in the north following claims yesterday that this scale of devastation would never have been allowed to happen in the south.

Floods minister Rory Stewart defended the Government’s stance saying: “We are spending an enormous amount of money on flood defences. In the end what is beating us is this relentless rain.”