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The British Red Cross came to the call of the elderly and the vulnerable hours before the council during a 24-hour power cut affecting three sheltered accommodation blocks.

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Power went out at 4.30am on January 2 at Sunrise, Solar and Serena Lodges in Hornchurch but it wasn’t until 8.30pm that the council arrived to help the residents some of them in their 90s.

Brian Laws, 73, of Sunrise Lodge, said: “The Red Cross had been there for two and a half hours doing what the council should’ve been doing.”

He said that a message was left on the council’s out-of-hours number at 5am.

“I called later in the day,” he said, “they replied: ‘Well if the electricity people are there then we will leave it’.

“But people had been without heating, hot food or anything for a long time. We’re talking about elderly people and those with multiple sclerosis.”

The Red Cross brought blankets and portable lights whilst a nearby tenant management organisation brought portable heaters.

Mr Laws assisted the Red Cross by making a list of the most vulnerable people.

They brought a lady of 96 down to the lounge of Serena Lodge where there was still heating. They made her a temporary bed so that she could sleep and stay warm.

“A lady with COPD [a lung disease] had to use candles for light which had affected her breathing badly,” Mr Laws said. “The Red Cross took her to the lounge immediately.”

Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “We are sorry that our tenants suffered during this period of bad weather.

“We are very grateful to all those who helped, including tenants, neighbours and the Red Cross.

“We apologise wholeheartedly to the residents who had such a bad experience. I have asked for there to be a review of all of our procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.”

UK Power Networks restored the electricity fully by 4am on January 3.

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