Calm and patience will be remembered
Our reporter reflects on a day which brought out the best in the community
IT was a strange and frightening event, yet the people of Folkestone showed remarkable fortitude and patience in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.
The sight that greeted me on my early morning arrival at the Black Bull pub was one of firefighters hard at work inspecting houses, a smattering of police and the rest of the country’s excited media.
For some reason the car park of the pub quickly became the focal point for hastily arranged press conferences, when senior fire service officials offered reassurance that everything possible was being done to make the area safe, but warned care still needed to be taken.
As reporters, TV and radio crews and photographers darted from street to street, and firefighters cordoned off houses thought to be unstable, the people of Canterbury Road, Black Bull Road and others were phlegmatic.
Many had frightening stories to recount and were only too happy to help the press try to establish what had happened.
The Salvation Army centre in Canterbury Road was a scene of altruism and patience as volunteers and evacuees worked together to make the day as painless as possible.
Calmness, sometimes mixed with bewilderment, was evident throughout the area.
I was working in the Kentish Express office in Ashford when I felt the tremor.
What had happened was soon confirmed by the seemingly endless phonecalls that immediately came into the office from far and wide.
Within half an hour I was on my way to Hythe and Folkestone.
As the day wore on the realisation began to spread that East Kent had experienced a truly significant phenomenon – one so unusual for this country – but had escaped tragedy.
With only one person reported injured, it was obvious that the early morning tremor had happened at a time when thankfully few people were out and about to be hit by flying debris.
In Hythe High Street, a power cut and bemusement combined to make it quiet and calm.
Most shops were shut; some opened doors to darkened interiors as shoppers and shopkeepers swapped stories of the tremor.
But it was in Folkestone that the main damage could be seen.
There were rumours of an impending second shock, but Saturday night passed uneventfully. Sunday morning brought quiet resignation and normality as traffic moved through roads previously sealed off.
This was a major event for East Kent, one to rival the 1987 hurricane, but the knowledge that there had been so few injuries was a comfort.
A well-organised response – from the emergency services and from people in the town – means that Saturday, April 28, 2007 will be remembered for an amazing natural phenomenon and the hard-working response of tireless volunteers.
Reporter Michael DeFroand with evacuee Jennifer Jordan at the Salvation Army centre in Canterbury Road, Folkestone