In the midst of devastating floods, Salford’s community resilience shines

Hundreds of volunteers have participated in a city-wide community cleanup to fight against flooding that has devastated Salford homes.

The volunteers have been working tirelessly for the past two days in an effort to clear the wreckage that Storm Eva brought to the Salford community on Boxing Day.

Organizing the community cleanup are Michelle & Sophie Ryan, who have organised the St. Boniface/ Broughton Clean Up Facebook page. The pairing have been taking in donations at St. Boniface Social Club in Lower Broughton, in an effort to cleanup the Salfordian homes damaged by the floods.

Michelle, 31, said: “We’ve never seen any floods like it. When we were walking around the area last night, it was just devastation, some people have lost everything. It’s heartbreaking.

“The floods have impacted everyone in Lower Broughton. Everywhere you go, you meet people who have been affected by the floods in one way or another. It’s absolutely devastating.

In the two days since the rainfall, the community response has been incredibly resilient. Copious amounts of donations of food, clothing, cleanup tools and furniture have been sent in from local residents and beyond, in an effort to combat the destruction that flooding has brought to the local community.

Michelle said: “The response has been overwhelming. Outside the club we’ve had cars queuing up to get into the club to help out- our Facebook page has over a thousand followers on it in just a couple of days. Our phones haven’t stopped yesterday- it’s just a great response.”

The response from the community has been so strong that St. Boniface have been forced to turn away people offering to bring toys & clothing, simply because they have not got enough room. The Social Club are currently looking for a larger storage facility to store the donations from kindhearted givers.

The Social Club is appealing for the community to donate more cleaning equipment- mop buckets, ‘squeegee’ blades, and brushes to help clear the debris from Salfordian homes.

Alexandra Lynch, a Salford resident, has been working on Eddie Smyth’s ‘Pit Stop’ catering van, supplying hot food to volunteers working on the cleanup from the floods, free of charge.

“The response from the community has been amazing,” Alexandra said. “Today we thought we had too much food, but the numbers of volunteers has been so large that we needed another 400 burgers to give to the volunteers

Alexandra said of the response from the council to the floods: “Don’t even go there with them. We know it’s Christmas, and we know it’s a Bank Holiday, but we’re not meant to be in work either and we’re still helping people we don’t know.

“We’ve had no professional help from the council- we’ve just got volunteers and residents. We’ve had no fire engines, no police, no ambulance, it’s just all volunteers. Anyone could get hurt.”

Councillor Jim King, of the Broughton Ward, said: “What didn’t go well initially is that the environmental agency did not get the message of flooding out strongly. That in my view was a significant failure.

“The emergency services and city council did get involved with the rescue operation very quickly. Most people were contacted within a reasonable time, and we got the vulnerable, the elderly and children evacuated as our first priority, and that happened relatively quickly in my view.

“Unfortunately we can’t stop the rain. What we do need to examine, however, is whether our flood defences are good enough- on Boxing Day water was running over our flood defences like a weir: they simply weren’t high enough.

“I would also like to thank everyone who have volunteered their services over the last couple of days, including St. Boniface who actually accommodated some people last night during the floods- they were absolutely fantastic.”

If you wish to donate to St. Boniface Social Club, please visit their Facebook page.

Salford Online is appealing in an effort to raise funds for flood victims. If you wish to donate, click here.

This article was written for Salford Online.

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