“I’ve made the really difficult decision of moving the people living there into temporary accommodation,” said Georgia Gould, head of the council. “I know it’s going to be difficult, but Grenfell changes everything. I just don’t believe that we can take any risks with our residents’ safety, and I just have to put them first.”
Justin Fuller, a resident of one of the buildings ordered evacuated, said he had been out having a drink with friends in a pub when he saw the news of the relocations on television. “This feels like a sick joke,” said Mr. Fuller, who was reached by phone. “They are playing with our minds. Yesterday they were telling us our building was safe. Now we have to pack up all our things and our small kids in the middle of the night in a state of emergency?”
Mr. Fuller said his wife had been informed of the evacuation by the fire department and was told to pack a bag for at least four weeks.
“She hasn’t been told where we are staying tonight,” he said.
Salma Derecho, 36, who lived on the 18th floor of Taplow Tower, one of the buildings ordered emptied, said officials knocked on her door at 9:30 p.m. with directions to pack enough for two to four weeks. Ms. Derecho said her girls, aged 6 and 10, were crying as the family left home and asking her: “Is the building going to fall?”
In the same building, Rechelle Atienza was carrying small suitcases and a few bags down the stairs. Her 6-year-old-son, Mike, was holding an inhaler to his mouth with one hand and clutching a stuffed dog with his other.
“I’m panicking, I’m shaking right now,” said Ms. Atienza, who verged on tears. “I just feel really sorry for my son, he doesn’t understand what’s happening, I hold his hand and it’s cold. I touch his heart and it’s beating fast. He was crying before, he can’t understand what’s happening.”
Many displaced residents congregated outside the Swiss Cottage recreation…