27 November 2009
Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesNow that most of the people displaced by fire in Peckham yesterday have returned home or been rehoused, Red Cross volunteers have been stood down.Red Cross volunteers worked until 1.15am this morning in rest centres and handed out emergency items after a serious fire in Peckham led to over 300 people being evacuated. Several blocks of flats caught fire after the blaze spread from a building site in Sumner Road.
A team of 15 emergency response volunteers and staff were quickly on scene at 6.30am yesterday and set up a rest centre at the request of Southwark Council. Working closely with the emergency services and the council, volunteers provided distressed residents with food, drink, hygiene packs and blankets as well as emotional support.
They also transported some residents back to their homes when it was safe.
Helping evacuated residents
Jonathan Edmondson, emergency response operations manager, said: "Red Cross volunteers are trained and ready to respond to incidents like this. We were at the scene, supporting the emergency services and Southwark Council, within 20 minutes.“We know from past experience that people evacuated from their homes will not only be feeling shocked and upset, but will need practical items like clean clothes, a toothbrush and warm blankets, so the Red Cross has these items ready and we’ll be there as long as we’re needed.”
"Amazing Red Cross"
Laura Hinks/British Red CrossOne family helped by the Red Cross is Billie Eidowu and her six-month-old daughter Awo. Billie arrived at the Sumner Road rest centre before 6am yesterday morning.
She said: “The Red Cross have been amazing and really couldn’t have done more to help us. I was woken up in the middle of the night, about 4.30am, and it was terrifying. My first thought was to get the children out and we didn’t even have time to put on socks and shoes."I literally ran out the house in my pyjamas. The only thing I thought to take with me was my phone. I knew people would be worried about me and wanted to let them know I was okay. Outside, it was total mayhem and I really didn’t expect to be so well looked after by the Red Cross.”
Billie and her daughter were directed to the Sumner Road rest centre, where a team of Red Cross volunteers helped the council look after evacuated residents.
Billie added: “The Red Cross have been really helpful and supportive. They’ve given us blankets, hot food and hygiene packs, but the best thing is they’ve come to talk to us, listen to what happened and assure us. The Red Cross have also passed on information from the firefighters about what’s happening back at the flats. I really couldn’t expect anything more from the Red Cross.”
Several rest centres in operation
As well as supporting people at the Sumner Road centre, the Red Cross helped to establish a mini GP surgery at the Bird in Bush Road rest centre. Two doctors and three nurses ran the surgery and Red Cross volunteers collected and delivered prescriptions to people evacuated without essential medicines.
Over 180 firefighters were called to the blaze, which started around half past four yesterday morning and has caused significant damage to the surrounding area.
Tesco, as part of its emergency response partnership with the Red Cross, donated around £3,000-worth of food and drink, which volunteers distributed at rest centres.
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