Somerset: A community effort for those affected by floods
By Lois Eckley, Media Officer, Save the Children Wales. Read this post in Welsh here
This week I travelled from our Cardiff office to The Old Distribution Centre in Bridgwater, Somerset, where locals have organised a donation centre helping those most affected by the recent floods on the Somerset levels.
The group, Flooding on the Levels Action Group (Flag), is coordinating the effort while Save the Children, with Unilever and Dettol, has donated a large number of goods to be given out to the people affected.
As soon as I walked through the warehouse’s main doors it was clear that this was a huge effort with large and small donations coming in from all over.
I fell into conversation with a businessman from Bristol who had come in the previous day with a donation of footwear from his shop. He was so moved by what he saw he decided to come back.
Helping the local community
Everyone had a job to do: people clustered in busy little busy groups, wading through tables of donated clothes, toys and toiletries. Everybody was there to help their local community – to do something for their neighbours, friends and family.
Since December, 5,800 properties have been affected by the floods; over a thousand people have had to leave their homes along the Thames.
Houses under two feet of water
“We are three generations of women all living together in one holiday home since the floods,” said Bryoni, holding her three-year-old daughter Elsa tightly to her chest.”We will have to move out come the holiday season and find a new place to live. My son is able to express his feelings but Elsa is finding it difficult to process the whole thing; she just wants to go home. Our house is under two feet of water, that’s all we can see is water – water for miles”.
Carol came to the Distribution Centre over the weekend for the first time and wanted to do whatever she could to help. “I have a back problem so I can’t carry the sandbags or lift heavy things but I do have a pair of hands and so there is always something that I can do. Even if I just sign out a pair of waders for someone I know, that one person has gained waders that day. I am also hear to listen and that can be comforting for those who are stressed and need support.”
Carol can’t believe the amount of donations flooding in through the doors every day.
“The generosity people have shown is amazing. Huge lorries have been bringing things in daily, all sorts of donations for those who have been affected here.”
Tracey and Sandra come here to collect supplies each Monday to help keep the workers on the pumping stations fed and healthy.
“We couldn’t just sit back and not get involved”
“This is our third week helping out,” says Tracey. “We have been busy cooking and making sure the workers are fed. Last night we cooked a roast for them and I’ve got warm sausage rolls in the boot ready to take to them today. It could be you and me finding ourselves in this situation, we couldn’t just sit back and not get involved.”