29 November 2012
For immediate release Thursday 29 November, 2012
For further information Samantha Whitwham email@example.com
Contact number 0117 3012608 or 07834 525 350
Seventy-year-old, John Cheetham from Llys Y Felin, said he was ‘completely oblivious’ to the drama that was unfolding in the City of St Asaph on Tuesday (27 November) until 1pm when he needed to be rescued by lifeboat from his first floor flat.
Mr Cheetham said: “I’d noticed the water outside but had no idea how deep it was or that the ground floor residents had been evacuated during the night. I was just pottering around the flat all morning – it was just like any other day.”
It wasn’t until a neighbour informed him of the extent and severity of the flooding that Mr Cheetham realised the need to evacuate his home. By this point, flood waters reached half way up the stairwell and the only route of escape was by RNLI boat.
Mr Cheetham was taken straight to the St Asaph rest centre, where he received support by Red Cross volunteers. He said: “It was a very traumatic experience. Nothing like this has ever happened here before, but I am amazed at the resilience and sense of community that has come about because of this event.
“What will stick in my mind is the support that I have received from the staff and Red Cross volunteers at the rest centre. Being able to talk through my worries has made the world of difference and helped relieve some of the anxiety and tension.”
Mr Cheetham was supported at the rest centre by Karen Mills who is trained to provide psychosocial support. Karen works as a team leader for the Gofal Project which supports vulnerable and isolated people across North Wales and is a qualified social worker.
She said: “We have been hearing some heartbreaking stories and there are a lot of people here who need emotional support as they re-live their experiences from the last couple of days. Emotions are running very high as people are desperate to get back to their homes to assess the damage. Our volunteers are able to offer practical advice but also just being here to listen to people’s concerns is a big help.”
In his haste to leave his flat, Mr Cheetham, who suffers with diabetes and heart disease, did not bring his daily medication. Luckily, he did have his prescription with him and so Red Cross volunteers deployed to the local chemist in a 4x4 and were able to deliver replacement medication later that afternoon.
First Minister, Carwyn Jones, visited the rest centre yesterday afternoon to meet those who had been evacuated from their homes and to thank the staff and volunteers from all organisations helping with the response and recovery efforts.
The First Minister said: “I’d like to thank the Red Cross and the many organisations for the work they’ve been doing and for responding so quickly to an event that unfolded so rapidly. There are many people who are so grateful to the Red Cross and all the organisations involved for their help in getting them to safety and saving lives.”
The Red Cross will continue to assist the local authority as the community begins to recover from the flooding crisis. Existing Red Cross service, including Gofal and the Home from Hospital service, will be used to support vulnerable people as they tackle the clean-up process.
Dave Worrall, Red Cross project manager for the Gofal Project, said: “Our trained volunteers will be able to provide both ongoing practical support such as shopping and prescription collections, while those affected concentrate on making their home habitable once again. All our volunteers are also training in providing emotional support, which I am sure will be much needed over the coming weeks as people take stock of the damage caused by the flood waters.”
To find out more about the Red Cross please visit redcross.org.uk.
Notes to editors
A photograph of John Cheetham and Karen Mills is available on request.
Please contact Sam Whitwham or Rebecca McIlhone (07834 525 350 or 07525 128 297).
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.
Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_West