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The most terrible of disasters in memory

Opinions | Published:

There are no words left which can describe it. And so the horror of Grenfell Tower will live in minds and hearts for many years to come.

Urban Search and Rescue officers from London Fire Brigade inside the Grenfell Tower in west London

And that is only those who watched horrified and transfixed from a distance.

The reality for those who survived will never change.

They have lost families, loved ones, they heard the screams, saw bodies desperately reaching beyond the already charred windows begging for help – there one minute, gone the next – it was as though some grotesque film had raced out of its frame and was rampaging among us.

But this was for real.

And now, just several days on, that part of London, of leafy Kensington, has changed forever.

An enormous scar of a building with its gaping window frames stands testament to a creeping terror which can strike anywhere, any time.

But there was an added sinister aspect to this particular tragedy.

The speed with which flames wrapped around the building in minutes, no proper exists for escape, the desperation which led to a baby being thrown from a window, mercifully, a man caught the mite in a blanket.

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But it all added up to the most terrible episode any of us can remember and which we shall never forget.

If there is anything to be grateful for, it is the way our emergency services pulled out stops they barely knew they had to rescue as many folk as possible.

And meanwhile, those incredible volunteers who do our nation proud stepped immediately to help, support, feed and comfort the bewildered whose lives have been saved but right now, as they gaze bleakly at the black monument to tragedy, whose future seems damned.

Then within hours, it all began.

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Politicians hoping to enhance reputations with accusations flying around, professional stirrers revving up their own little hate campaigns, scraps and quarrels breaking out and at the very moment when understanding and care is needed, banging on about blame and who should be persecuted.

If half of what we’ve heard about that building plus the claim of previously ignored reports and complaints is true, then there should be no hiding place for those responsible.

And no, it’s not enough to simply say it will all be discussed, there will be enquiries, the truth will out with a 500-page document at the end of it all – a few years down the line.

But there is a middle road here.

Even as the agitators are vying for attention, brave men and women are struggling against all the odds to find and identify bodies and will be doing so for weeks and maybe months ahead.

Those spending their long, long days trying to care for and comfort the bereaved, the damaged and the heartbroken as well as the desperate neither want nor need the baying of the crowd right now.

They need to know we are on their side but not bullying them into agitation just at the moment.

And the voices of reason who are also concerned that judgment should be swift, sound and that those responsible for any gross negligence must pay the price, are drowned by the mob.

This is a national emergency, act accordingly always with the needs of these poor people in mind, then direct any justifiable anger at those who could have prevented this terrible disaster and failed the captives in the tower block.

Shirley Tart

By Shirley Tart
Associate Editor (Shropshire Magazine) and Senior Writer

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