THE parish church with what is believed to be the tallest tower
in the UK faces a repair bill of thousands of pounds after it was
hit by a tidal surge that struck the north and east of the country
on Thursday of last week.
The surge was said to be the biggest since 1953, when more than
300 people died, and 24,000 homes were flooded. This time,
Lincolnshire and Norfolk were worst hit.
St Botolph's, Boston, known locally as "the Stump", was among
300 buildings that were flooded in the Lincolnshire market-town.
Although up to a foot of water got into the 700-year-old building,
the Team Vicar, the Revd Christopher Wedge, opened its doors three
days later for a Sunday-morning service.
He has also offered the church as a place for those affected to
come to pray. "It is very important that we are open so people can
come here to pray, light candles, and speak to people - either me
or my colleagues," he said.
The fund-raising manager for the church, Andrew Coleman,
described the damage as "very depressing". "The water . . . covered
the whole church, and anything that was on the ground has been
damaged. . . Worst of all, we had 12 feet of water in the cellars,
where the boilers are. It looks like they are beyond repair."
Local authorities estimate that the town faces a £4-million
repair bill after water surged up the River Haven into the town
centre, peaking at about 7.30 p.m. on Thursday of last week.
The Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service made 44 rescues from
210 flooded properties after deploying ten rescue boats, ten rescue
rafts, and 12 pumps across the town. The Mayor of Boston, Paul
Kenny, said that more than 1000 homes and businesses in the town
had been affected.
Dozens of volunteers took part in the clean-up operation. Mr
Kenny said: "I have lots of people wanting to help with the
clean-up. We want to get Boston ready for Christmas."
Minutes after being hit by the tidal surge, dozens of homes in
the town were flooded in low-lying areas around the River Haven,
and the floodwater eventually reached the market place. Council
offices, the local newspaper offices, and assembly rooms were also
flooded, together with dozens of shops and restaurants. Most of the
water receded overnight.
Assessors for Ecclesiastical Insurance said that they had
received a number of claims for damage caused by the storm surge,
and that both vicarages and churches experienced flooding, and
falling masonry from the high winds. A spokeswoman said that no
figures had yet been put on the claims, but the damage would amount
to thousands of pounds.