24 November 2009
Kate LoadesAs residents in Cockermouth start the long process of recovery following the recent devastating floods, the Red Cross is providing help at two flood support centres in Cumbria.
Volunteers and staff at the two centres, in Cockermouth and Keswick, will provide practical help and advice – and much-needed emotional support – to those caught up in the unprecedented flooding. Hundreds of homes were severely damaged last week and scores of people left traumatised after being trapped in their homes by the rising water.
Seven Red Cross volunteers and staff are based at the Cockermouth centre, where they will continue to provide help to Cumbria residents over the coming weeks and months. The Red Cross is working alongside other voluntary organisations including the Salvation Army, WRVS and Rotary.
Val Steel, service manager, said: “We know from our experience during the Morpeth floods in September 2008 that having your home or business flooded can be very distressing. It’s absolutely vital that people receive emotional as well as practical support – not just in the next few days but in the weeks and months to come.”
Volunteer teams, supported by Red Cross Land Rover ambulances, are raising awareness of the two centres throughout Cockermouth and Keswick so that as many residents as possible can get the help and support they need.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross’ swift water rescue team continue to remain on standby after working through exceptionally challenging conditions in Cockermouth.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron met volunteers and staff this afternoon at the flood support centre in Cockermouth. Val Steel told the leader about the help the Red Cross had provided during the floods, and will continue to provide to Cumbria residents over the coming weeks and months.
Working alongside the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and Mountain Rescue Service, the 18-strong swift water rescue team provided 24-hour support and worked day and night in horrendous conditions to get residents out of flooded properties.
On Saturday, the Red Cross boats also formed an essential part of the search of 929 properties in six hours. The unprecedented scale of the flooding meant that rescue teams were working in water up to eight feet deep and equivalent to Grade 4 (very difficult) rapids.
The Red Cross, along with other voluntary organisations, has also helped more than 150 people at two rest centres based at Cockermouth School.
Giving today so we can respond tomorrow
Mark Astarita, director of fundraising, said: "Our emergency response in Cumbria has been incredible. It has cost us thousands of pounds in volunteer and staff time, and we have deployed kit and equipment worth hundreds of thousands.
"All of this has been paid for by the donations we get every day of the week from our supporters, who have made sure we have well-trained volunteers and staff ready to respond round the clock to disasters just like these, as well as the ambulances, boats and other equipment they've used to help people.
"Giving today means we can respond again tomorrow whereever we are most needed."
Read our emergency responder's blog from the centre of Cockermouth
Read our blog about the Cockermouth floods
How to prepare for emergencies
Preparing for floods and flooding
Become an emergency response volunteer