More residents leave due to landslip fears

By a County Press reporter

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


More residents leave due to landslip fears

Cracks in Undercliff Drive have led to the evacuation of homes by the Isle of Wight Council. Picture by Peter Boam.

UPDATED 14:15*

RESIDENTS remaining on the northern side of the crumbling Undercliff Drive have been evacuated due to safety concerns.

Increasing land movement in the area between Niton and St Lawrence known as 'Woodlands’ means people in the three homes have been advised to leave by Isle of Wight Council highways bosses.

Council officers accompanied by a fire officer and a police officer told the residents of the deteriorating situation yesterday (Monday) afternoon and provided advice and support.

To help residents, the following measures have been put in place:

• On site advice and help from social care and homelessness officers

• Emergency service support to assist with relocation if required

• Help to move belongings to a safe location for storage

• Provision of temporary hotel accommodation if required.

The council said it had worked with Island Roads, Hampshire Constabulary, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and members of the armed forces, who remain on the Island to assist with the operation.

A total of nine properties are in the affected area and access to the site is extremely difficult and worsening. Access to the site is restricted to authorised personnel only.

A strong reminder has also gone out to members of the public and media not to try to gain access to the site. A formal road and footpath closure order remains in place.

The Isle of Wight Council is working with technical experts to look into the long-term issues surrounding the stability of Undercliff Drive.

An Isle of Wight NHS spokesman said an ambulance crew had assisted with the transfer of one resident to temporary accommodation.

*In a statement issued this afternoon (Tuesday), the council said conditions continued to deteriorate at Undercliff Drive and they had stepped up to help affected residents remove belongings from their homes.

It said further military support had been requested to work with partner agencies in the ongoing situation.

More troops arrived on the Island last night (Monday) to provide assistance with site security and to help residents remove belongings from their homes.

The council, Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, Island Roads and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), with army support have been helping residents to remove possessions while access remains, a spokeswoman said.

Brigadier Andrew Hughes, Commander 145 (South) Brigade, the Joint Military Commander (South) for military response and assistance in support of civil authorities and agencies on the Island and other areas said it had been important to act quickly.

He said: "We have been able to call on military helicopters for some short notice tasks but also have moved manpower, equipment and transport lift by road and ferry to support ongoing tasks and demonstrate our support to the Isle of Wight authorities and emergency services. This has been a real success in operating together in cooperation over the past few days.

"Military personnel have been providing assistance where required, reassurance and help with manpower intensive tasks. Twenty five soldiers, including Royal Engineer specialists, are currently deployed on the Island and we are planning on drawing on the local knowledge and experience of Isle of Wight reservist soldiers from 266 Port Sqn RLC based at Drill Hall Road in Newport to provide this assistance over the weekend.

"We will continue to monitor the requirement for military support during the expected clear up following this unprecedented period of weather."

The road has deteriorated significantly over the past few days, with access for residents and those helping with the operation limited to narrow sections of road (approximately one metre wide) either side of the affected area.

Isle of Wight Council deputy leader Cllr Steve Stubbings, councillor for Ventnor West, said: "The council’s priority remains the safety of residents in the area and helping them to remove possessions from their homes while access remains. This is a distressing time for the residents and the council has been providing, and will continue to provide, whatever support it can.

"With the ground still moving, it is too soon for us to make an assessment on the future of the road at this stage, this will be considered by technical experts when the ground has stabilised in the future."

The site remains extremely dangerous and members of the public are reminded to stay away from the area for their own safety.

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