Cushendall, a village on the stunning North Antrim coast, is an area renowned for its natural beauty. But through the years, the residents have faced challenges from severe storms, snow, heavy flooding and tidal surges and, although rare, these events have had a big impact on the local community.
Aware that there were many local people with valuable skills who were willing to volunteer in a crisis, the Cushendall Community Resilience Group came together to decide how they could take action.
“We have a great community, with great go ahead and joined up thinking, says Chair, Paddy McLaughlin. “We don’t wait for someone else to do it, we do it.”
After meeting to discuss what the community needed, the group decided to put together one coordinated plan that, in the event of an emergency, would utilise local skills and resources. A plan, “built by the community for the community,” explains Paddy.
The group also identified a generator as a vital piece of equipment as previous power cuts caused by storms had left residents without heat and light for days.
The group received an Awards for All grant to buy the generator and produce their emergency plan as a booklet to distribute to local residents. The booklet outlines the risks they face as a community, what to do in an emergency and who to contact.
Practical information in the plan includes everything from sand bag deployment to blankets and beds and all activity is closely coordinated with Northern Ireland’s emergency services.
For Paddy and the rural community of Cushendall, the emergency plan is providing comfort where they once felt vulnerable and isolated. “It reassures vulnerable people in times of need that there’s help there until the emergency services arrive.”