accessibility & help

Support for flood-hit Somerset

17 February 2014

Volunteers with the Red Cross Unimog vehicle

For further information contact:
Rebecca McIlhone 07525 128297/
On call mobile: 0117 3012624


Volunteers and staff from the British Red Cross have supported more than two hundred people at a rest centre in Bridgwater and reached hundreds more by 4x4 to carry out welfare checks and deliver vital supplies throughout the flood-hit Somerset Levels.

The charity is working in partnership with local authorities, the emergency services and others in the voluntary sector to help with transport, shopping, welfare checks and fuel deliveries, and is even using its international Unimog 4x4 vehicle to do refuse collections from areas that are completely cut off by flood water.

On Thursday volunteers were using the Unimog and 4x4 vehicles in Moorland, Muchelney, Thorney and Burrowbridge where they have now helped around 250 people. On Friday, the Red Cross helped with evacuations of residents from properties in North Newton and Saturday was a very busy day with three double crewed vehicles being used for the delivery of groceries and heating oil, welfare checks on vulnerable people and support to the village of Oath, which was without power.

Red Cross volunteers are also providing first aid, emotional support and signposting to other agencies at a rest centre in Bridgwater and this was busy on Saturday, supporting 72 people from 36 households. The total number of people seeking help from the Red Cross since the rest centre opened is 224. Volunteers have recently been handing out hygiene kits at the centre, containing toiletries such as toothbrushes and shaving kits and these have been well-received.

Salt Moor resident Mark Carpenter, 50, and his 84-year-old father William, live in a cottage adjoining Salt Moor pumping station in Somerset and gratefully received support from the Red Cross when they ran out of supplies.
Red Cross staff members Jamie Piriou and Ella Coates drove their 4x4 Land Rover as close as they could safely get to Mark and William’s home and then Mark walked half a mile along the riverbank to meet them. The three went to the local supermarket and then returned along the riverbank on foot, climbing several fences to reach Mark’s home.
He says: “I knew that the Red Cross helped people in this country but to actually have it done for yourself was great. We’ve never actually asked for anyone‘s help before and it meant a lot. They climbed over three or four fences and got completely covered in mud but seemed to love every minute of it. I can’t thank them enough.”
Meanwhile the Red Cross fire and emergency support teams also supported around ten families throughout Somerset, Devon and Cornwall affected by weather-related power outages at the weekend, at the request of Western Power Distribution.

Red Cross senior service manager for emergency response Joanna Tennant says: “We are now into week four of our response to the flooding on the Somerset levels and I’m so impressed by our staff and volunteers for the way they’re handling this long-running operation.

“Our emergency response volunteers are used to providing assistance to people in crisis in the county during smaller scale emergencies so they are well placed to provide what is needed now. We want people to know that it’s not the scale of the crisis or where it happens that matters but the impact on the people affected.”

For more information about the Red Cross visit


Notes to editors
For more information or interviews please contact Rebecca McIlhone or call 0117 3012624 or 07525 128297

Please find attached photographs of Mark Carpenter from Salt Moor, Somerset, with Red Cross staff members Jamie Piriou and Ella Coates. Please credit Victoria Wood-Matthews/BRC.

The Red Cross’s 7.5 tonne 4x4 Unimog vehicle is more commonly used to deliver international aid in mountainous or flooded terrain. The Unimog vehicle was sent from the charity’s international warehouse in Warmley, Bristol. The same model of vehicle was used in Indonesia during the Asian Tsunami in 2004. And it will be invaluable during the current severe weather crisis because it can work in incredibly difficult conditions and reach places other vehicles can't and can carry about two and a half tons of cargo.

The Red Cross is part of a multi-agency response to the flooding in Somerset which includes the following partners; Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, South Somerset District Council, the emergency services including fire, ambulance and police, NHS and Public Health England, Department for Communities and Local Government, Bristol Water and Wessex Water, Western Power Distribution, the Environment Agency, The Met Office and partners from the voluntary sector.


For more information on the British Red Cross please visit:

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.

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