13 January 2017
British Red Cross staff and volunteers across the east coast of England are preparing to respond to a storm surge, as communities are warned to be prepared for large waves and possible flooding throughout Friday into Saturday morning.
British Red Cross volunteers are responding in 10 rest centres across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. So far, 25 volunteers and two staff members have been deployed and they have seen over 120 people who have been evacuated from their homes. Volunteers are on hand to provide emotional and practical support, as well as first aid. In cases where access to food and other vital supplies is rapidly needed, the British Red Cross can evoke its Emergency Agreement partnership - the only one of its kind in the UK. This allows the charity to access stock from Tesco stores to bring relief to affected communities without delay.
The Environment Agency is urging people to check their flood risk on GOV.UK and to take more precautions near the coast, avoiding walking along coastal paths and promenades if possible. People can also download the British Red Cross emergency app that delivers real-time alerts, severe weather warnings and practical advice in an emergency straight to a smart phone or tablet.
Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, said: “Our thoughts are with all the families that are affected at the moment. Being evacuated from your home can be incredibly stressful, especially when you don’t know what you may be going back to. Our trained emergency response volunteers are already helping in rest centres and remain on standby across the country to support communities and will be on hand as long as they are needed.”
Sam and Miriam Galea were evacuated from their home on the Essex sea front last night and are now at the rest centre in Jaywick. Sam says: “We were evacuated last night at 9.30pm by the police, who brought us to the rest centre. Even though it’s been a crisis situation to be evacuated from our home, we’ve had lots of teas, breakfasts, sandwiches, and been incredibly well looked after.”
Miriam, who has Parkinson’s Disease, said it was particularly good to have Red Cross volunteers on the scene, with experience of looking after people with health conditions. She says: “The thing that’s great about the Red Cross is that one of the volunteers helped me when I was feeling unwell. I was really grateful to have someone there to look after me.”
Merle Johnson, from Colchester, who has been a Red Cross volunteer for four years, is the team leader at the rest centre in Jaywick, said: “We arrived at 7am to find that there were mainly older people here. Some had stayed overnight, some had come in at 8am this morning. There was a lot of support from different parts of the community, including the council, social workers, and people who work with the elderly. We’ve been going around and checking what people’s needs are and sometimes just sitting with them and having conversations about their concerns and giving support and encouragement. Mainly we’re supporting older people so teas and coffees and toast are the order of the day. It’s a very calm environment and we’re pleased to be able to offer people some comfort.”
The public are advised to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101 if they have any concerns about their safety or that of their family. In an emergency the public should call 999.
People can also call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0345 988 1188 for the latest flood warnings in their own area.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The British Red Cross helps millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts.
Our volunteers and staff help people in crisis to live independently by providing support at home, mobility aids and transport. We also teach first aid skills. We are part of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian network.
We refuse to ignore people in crisis.
For updates please follow us on Twitter: @BritishRedCross