‘It’s been very isolating’: the experience of displaced Exeter students

On Friday 26th February, a WW2 bomb was found right next to the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus. It is thought to have been a Nazi bomb, and weighed in at approximately 2,200lbs.  Luckily enough, the bomb was docile, and so there was time for everyone to get away.

The Royal Navy bomb disposal forces were called, and 1,400 students (as well as other residents) were evacuated from the nearby areas. Students living in Clydesdale, Holland Halls and Homes for Students Exeter One were all evacuated Saturday morning, given temporary permission to stay with friends or family despite COVID-19 legislation. Although most students were set up in hotels and other temporary accommodation.

@x_megan26_x

Quite the little adventure #ohno #exeter #uni #university #foryou #ladsontour

♬ Paparazzi – Kim Dracula

What has happened since?

Whilst many of those evacuated were permitted to return to housing (people who lived 400 meters away were allowed home that Sunday), others were displaced until this weekend.

@x_megan26_x

What a weird 24 hours🤯💣 #uni #university #exeter #exeteruniversity #foryou #holiday #weekendbreak

♬ WHAT WE DOINGGG – Nate✨

We spoke to Emily PH, a student from Exeter, on Thursday 11th March (almost 2 weeks after the controlled explosion). She revealed that she and other students were still being housed in a hotel and that on Sunday 14th March they would be relocated to different university accommodation.

Emily reached out to the university on the 1st of March to discuss her belongings. She was worried, what with the windows broken from the blast and bad weather, that her belongings would be at risk. When we asked what had happened following this, Emily said: ‘We were allowed back to our rooms last Friday … and I’m allowed to go and pack up the rest of my belongings tomorrow’.

So students were kept off-site and away from their own belongings for 2 weeks following the explosion, in order to ensure their safety. This is in part due to a large amount of mental debris which flew and landed on many nearby buildings.

exeter bomb
Source: Radio Exe

We also asked Emily whether the university has put in place any extra support for those displaced by the bomb, in terms of aiding their studies or extending any deadlines. In response, Emily said, ‘the university have just provided the link to mitigation services so nothing has been put in place to help those affected by the bomb specifically.’

What’s it like being evacuated?

We spoke to Emily about how she feels, and what it’s like living in temporary accommodation – especially during a pandemic. She told us that, ‘I’ve been in the same hotel room since I was evacuated but we’re not even allowed anyone – even our household – in our rooms, so it’s been very isolating’.

With the news of the move on the horizon, Emily said that this feeling isn’t much better, explaining that she is ‘having to join a new household’ and is ‘quite anxious’ about that.

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