accessibility & help

Volunteers helping thousands hit by the floods

17 February 2014

Floods in UK view through a wing mirror

As thousands of people across the UK continue to struggle against the bad weather, we are working round the clock to help those hit hardest by the floods.

In the past week, around 600 emergency response volunteers have directly helped almost 5,000 people – delivering supplies, transporting stranded residents and carrying out welfare checks in inaccessible areas.

We are also supporting the emergency services and helping run seven rest centres in flood-hit areas.

Rural support

In Somerset, perhaps the hardest-hit region in the UK, the Red Cross has been supporting affected communities on a daily basis since before Christmas.

We are currently using two 4x4 vehicles and an all-weather Unimog truck to reach flooded and inaccessible areas.

Volunteers have been delivering, food, supplies, fuel and even portaloos to rural communities. In the village of Oath, where the entire community was left without power for 26 hours, the Red Cross checked on every household.

Boat paramedics

Our volunteers are also witnessing the dangers associated with the flood crisis. During one visit, the Unimog crew found a resident suffering a diabetic emergency at a property that was completely cut off by water.

Fortunately, our trained volunteers were able to provide medical support for the casualty until the emergency services arrived by boat.

At a rest centre in Bridgwater, the Red Cross has supported a total 229 people from 114 households since the floods hit. Our volunteers have provided food, blankets, hygiene kits and emotional support for distressed residents.

Thousands helped

In Wales, where hurricane winds last Thursday brought many cable lines down, the British Red Cross has been checking on hundreds of vulnerable residents hit by power cuts.

Following a request for help from power companies, more than 50 volunteers manned the phones and started calling elderly and disabled residents identified as needing special attention.

If no-one answered the phone, or if someone requested help, a volunteer would be deployed to make a home visit.

So far, our volunteers have spoken to 2,060 vulnerable people caught up in the power cut to check they are okay – and have actually visited more than 800 residents across Wales. This operation will continue until every last person has been accounted for.

Hazardous areas

In Surrey at the weekend, Red Cross volunteers – equipped with 4x4 vehicles – went on several call-outs with the local ambulance service’s hazardous area response team.

Together, the two teams made their way to 45 residents in several communities cut off by floodwater, checking on welfare and delivering desperately-needed stocks of drinking water.

The teams were also involved in a search for a missing canoeist in Berkshire. And in Hampshire, volunteers will be providing support to local residents throughout the week from a base at Rumsey fire station.

Equipped to help

Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning and response, said: “The weather forecasts still aren’t bringing the news we’d all like, but people should be assured that the Red Cross is equipped to keep helping as long as we’re needed.

“As the ongoing response in Wales has shown, our volunteers simply won’t stop until everyone who needs our help receives it.”

Get advice and information on preparing for and dealing with flooding.

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