accessibility & help

Elizabeth's story: supported every step of the way after Cockermouth floods

25 November 2009

Three people sit at a table and talkTom PurslowRobert Casson raced home from his mining job in Scotland when his wife, Elizabeth called to tell him that water was rising rapidly outside their home in Cockermouth last Thursday afternoon.Elizabeth started to panic when she saw what she describes as a “massive surge … a torrent of water gushing into our front door.” When Robert arrived two and a half hours later, he had to wade through four feet of water to get into the house.

“Stuff was floating everywhere," he said. “The fridge was on its back floating all over the place.”

Talking it through

The couple was later taken out of their home by boat on Thursday evening thanks to the RNLI and taken to a nearby rest centre at Cockermouth School, where they first came into contact with the British Red Cross.

Red Cross senior service manager and volunteer Val Steel saw Elizabeth was upset and walked over to check on her.

“I could see Elizabeth was extremely anxious and irritated so I just calmed her down and talked her through everything.”

Help with anything

Robert is convinced Val’s emotional support stopped Elizabeth from breaking down and the couple has returned to see Val (who is now playing a big role at the flood support centre in Cockermouth) every day since.

“I never really understood how the Red Cross helped in situations like this in the past,” said Elizabeth. “But now I know and I would advise anyone who has gone through what we went through to find the Red Cross. They can help with anything.”

As well as providing emotional support, Val was able to identify the couple’s needs and signposted them to insurance advisors and the Citizens Advice Bureau. 

Great support

Robert and Elizabeth have had great family support and have been able to stay with their sister and their son, a police officer and father of two, and should be able to return to their home within weeks. Robert is sacrificing his wage to stay off work for the rest of the year so he can help his wife readjust to settling back in again.  

“We are a lot luckier than a lot of people who have been through these floods,” he said.

“I’ve never really given to charity before but after the kindness and support the Red Cross have shown us every single day since the floods hit us, I will always give to them.”

Tremendous response

Working alongside the RNLI and Mountain Rescue Service, a 20-strong Red Cross swift water rescue team took part in over 200 rescues and assisted in 996 property searches. Land Rover ambulances have been supporting the local ambulance service.

Red Cross staff and volunteers at the Cockermouth School rest centre helped 150 people immediately after the floods, and staff and volunteers are now working in three flood support centres across Cumbria to help people recover after the floods.

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