Storm Emma brought more snow than the UK has seen for almost half a century, yet an army of volunteers came forward to support statutory and local services.
While the Police advised people to stay indoors and only to undertake “essential” travel, communities helped the most vulnerable; here are some of the organisations that made a difference in our local area.
The week of sudden, treacherous conditions saw the formation of a Local Resilience Forum (LRF) 4×4 Coordination Cell, tasked with ensuring people were not stranded. Made up of representatives from local authorities, the police and fire services and charities such as St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross.
They coordinated 4×4 resources to help those working in health and social care, and the emergency services, get to places of work and assist those cut off by snow. Despite the weather, St John Ambulance deployed 172 volunteers to public events over the last week, providing 670 hours of medical support in our region.
St John also supported health authorities by providing 4×4 support for patient and personnel transport, comprising of over 300 hours. This, coupled with 18 personnel hours supplied to the LRF Coordination Cell, means that over a staggering 1000 hours were donated to our communities, by volunteers from St John, between 26th February – 3rd March, with support still ongoing.
Ed Watt, St John Ambulance’s Regional Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Lead, said: “I’d like to thank all of our personnel who have responded to the request for help and made themselves available to be deployed where needed around the region.”
The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) saw increased demand and utilised their volunteer Community First Responders to respond to 999 calls. EEAST also requested those with 4x4s to support the Trust, above and beyond their usual roles, especially in aiding front-line staff getting to and from work.
In response to the sub-zero temperatures, St Peter Mancroft Church opened its doors to the City’s homeless citizens. With local volunteers on hand, who put out an appeal for warm clothes and shoes, response staff gratefully received substantial donations from UEA students and staff. In contrast, the SOS bus, a now permanent fixture in the city centre that cares for those who frequent Norwich’s clubland district was cancelled.
In a post on Facebook, SOS bus, Norwich, stated “Due to poor weather conditions it is with regret that the SOS Bus will be out of action.”