When their remote country home was flooded during the 2007 summer floods, pensioners Brian and Glenda Meadwell were completely cut off and had to fend for themselves for a week – until the Red Cross arrived.
Many people suffered as a result of the flooding, but few endured as much discomfort as pensioners Brian and Glenda Meadwell. Completely cut off when their remote country home was swamped under eight feet of water, the frail couple had to fend for themselves for more than a week.
Brian (73), who is losing his sight and Glenda (72), who has arthritis in her spine, live in an isolated sixteenth century house in the village of Deerhurst, near Tewkesbury. As the river Severn runs directly behind their house, they were the first to feel the impact when the waters began to rise.
Brian remembered: “We’ve been flooded before, but never like this. It was Sunday night when we realised things were going to get really bad so Glenda and I stayed up until 11.30, moving as much furniture as we could off the floor.”
He added: “When we woke the next morning, we weren’t prepared for the scene that hit us as we looked down the stairs. The previous night, I’d managed to lift and store our sofas about four feet above ground level. Now the water was within an inch of reaching them.”
Later, they heard rescue helicopters circling overhead so Brian ran to a top floor window and waved for help. Six hours later, he gave up. Brian said: “By this time, Glenda was really upset about what was happening so we managed to borrow a wooden rowing boat and spent the next two nights staying with a neighbour in the village.
“When I finally made it back to the house, I was shocked by what I saw. The water was now so high that, if I’d been standing in my garden, it would have been well over my head.”
Over the next few days, life just got harder for Brian and Glenda. Brian said: “We used the boat to get bottled water from the village shop and tried to see what cans of food we could collect from the submerged kitchen cupboards. For eight days, we were completely cut off and didn’t see a soul.”
Eventually, the police heard of their plight and referred the couple to the British Red Cross, who immediately sprang into action. Brian said: “When the Red Cross volunteers arrived, we just couldn’t believe it. We had been without help for so many days, I was wondering how long I could go on for.”
Red Cross volunteer Neil well remembers his first encounter with the elderly couple. He said: “Brian and Glenda were in a really bad way when we first met them. As we brought in water, food and hygiene packs, they just cried.
“Brian had been working so hard, he had lots of cuts that had become infected from the dirty flood water. He even had a piece of glass stuck in his foot.”
As a trained first aider, Neil realised that Brian needed to get to a hospital straightaway. He continued: “When I asked if we could take him to hospital, we were expecting him to refuse but he just said ’I’ll get my wellies’. I think that was a testament to the good rapport and trust we’d managed to build with them.”
The team took Brian to hospital where they waited for him to have his cuts cleaned and bandaged, as well as receiving a tetanus injection and course of antibiotics. They also returned the next day with mosquito repellent (the insects had started to breed in the stagnant water), a new pair of waders for Glenda and some Deep Heat cream to help her back pain.
Having endured days of hunger, uncertainty and discomfort, the couple suddenly found themselves with food, lots of clean water and urgent medical care. A grateful Brian said: “It’s going to take a long time to sink in what those volunteers have done for us.”
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