Carol McKay led the Red Cross team at two rest centres that were quickly established to deal with the 2007 summer floods in Oxford.
She worked round the clock to co-ordinate the local Red Cross effort, first at a local school and then, as the situation grew worse, at the Kassam Football Stadium. More than 300 evacuees passed through the rest centre in a matter of days, many of them vulnerable elderly people from local care homes.
Carol said: “The elderly often have very specific needs, but this situation has been really acute. In a lot of cases, the elderly had to leave their home environment very quickly, which was incredibly unsettling for them.
“Many of them are used to relying on a carer, but now many of the carers have also been flooded and simply can’t get here to help. I’ve been talking to many of the older people here, trying to comfort them during this disorientating time.”
She added: “There have been some serious medical issues arising from people not having their usual supplies with them. Three people, for example, came without oxygen cylinders that they really need. Others have left their medicine behind because of the rush in leaving their homes. In these cases, we have been organising runs to pharmacies to try and help get supplies.”
Looking back on a few hectic days, Carol remembered: “Yesterday we had a group of Estonian schoolchildren arrive. The poor things had been on a school trip to Oxford, and each only had a lunch box and a kagool with them. Things were difficult to start with, but we soon got an Estonian phrasebook that helped us to move them on to somewhere safe.”
“We have had our moments here over the past few days but I can honestly say that we have made a big difference to the people here. We hit the ground running and have had an excellent working relationship with all the other agencies. It’s been a good emergency response and we’ll continue to be here as long as necessary. This is what we do.”
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