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British Red Cross helps after Isle of Wight landslip

20 February 2014

Following a major landslip and road collapse, our volunteers have been helping distressed residents to evacuate their properties.

Following heavy rains, almost the entire width of a coastal road collapsed last week and disappeared down a hillside. Large cracks immediately started to appear in several properties.

For their own safety, householders were told they must evacuate immediately – and there’s a very real possibility they will never be able to return.

Packing up

Residents from the at-risk properties, in Ventnor on the southern tip of the island, were asked to select and pack up their most prized possessions. Teams of firefighters and soldiers then carried the boxes down the remaining narrow slip of road to waiting removal vans.

As stressed residents struggled to take in the enormity of the situation, our fire and emergency support (FES) team was called out to provide support.

Volunteer Louise Randall said: “We were there in case people wanted to talk. But what they really needed was practical help with packing their possessions, so that’s what we did.”

Prized possessions

The Red Cross team faced an additional dilemma when they were asked to help pack up the home of one family that was out of the country.

Volunteer Angela Locke said: “It was a big responsibility doing something like this, especially for complete strangers. We had no idea what was precious to these people, because it’s not always the obvious things.

“Fortunately, some teenagers from next-door – who know the family quite well – stopped by to help once they had packed up their own things.”

Reliable volunteers

The FES crew also kept teams of firefighters and soldiers supplied with hot drinks and snacks, as they worked through driving wind and rain to empty the houses.

Stuart May, chief fire officer, hasworked with the Red Cross FES team many times at domestic fires across the island.

He said: “The volunteers are brilliant. Whenever they arrive at an incident, we know that people are going to be well cared for – and that leaves us free to get on with the job. It was obvious their skills would be valuable here.”

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