INSURERS are counting the cost of storm-related damage to church
buildings, which early estimates have put at more than £3
As the floods begin to subside in some areas, insurance
assessors are weighing up the damage caused by high winds and
Last week's gales and rain sent a stone pinnacle crashing
through the roof of Rotherham Minster. Debris was scattered over
the choir aisles, but the area was empty at the time, the Vicar of
Rotherham, Canon David Bliss, said.
"We were very thankful that no one was injured, and that the
incident occurred some time on Wednesday afternoon, when the
minster was closed and no one was in the building. It is estimated
that it will cost in the order of £20,000to repair, and take two to
On the same evening, gale-force winds lifted the lead roofing
from a Lincolnshire church, damaging the external walls. The
Priest-in-Charge of St Peter's, Foston, near Grantham, the Revd
Harriet Orridge, said that the church had suffered "extensive"
Ecclesiastical Insurance said that it had received more than 500
claims so far, but the figure was rising steadily. Total claims had
amounted to about £3 million to date, a spokesman said. Nationally,
all insurance claims for flood- and storm-related damage were
expected to top £1 billion.
Several villages in the Somerset Levels are still cut off by
floodwater, after seven weeks. Some parts of the Levels that had so
far been dry have this week experienced flooding.
The Associate Vicar in the Alfred Jewel benefice, the Revd Phil
Denison, said that the village of North Newton was now partially
under water, although water levels elsewhere had dropped a few
millimetres. "Though we haven't had a day without any rain, people
are grateful when we see the sun. They are in good spirits, as well
as they can be, and they seem to appreciate the care the churches
are showing," he said.
In other areas, emergency flood-measures appear to have saved
Winchester Cathedral, although its crypt has had floodwater a metre
high - a frequent occurrencein heavy rain. The Environment Agency
had partially dammed the River Itchen, and created artificial lakes
to divert floodwater, a scheme that appears to have saved the
The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, visited
flooded churches in his diocese, including Ashleworth, which
currently can be reached only through a chicken barn on a
neighbour's field. He said that reactions to the flooding were
"inspiring". "It has been a devastating time for the many people
who have been affected by the floods. It was important for me to
see first-hand how this had impacted people's lives, their
properties, and churches."
The level of floodwater along the Thames was receding this week,
after the heavy rain gave way to showers. Churches were involved in
helping those who were being evacuated from their homes.
The Vicar of St John the Baptist, Egham, the Revd Jeff Wattley,
who is a trained sailor, visited parishioners by boat. The church
sent out letters to all villagers offering help and prayer, and its
community café, The Kitchen, situated on the high street, offered
food and drinks.
The parish of Busbridge and Hambledon, in Surrey, has given a
church house to a family of six who were forced out of their home
by floodwater. The church hall has been handed over to emergency
workers for accommodation, and parishioners provided food.
The Church Urban Fund has also launched an emergency flood fund
to help meet the "ongoing needs" of people after the floodwater has
ON 20 July 2007, two months'
worth of rain fell in 14 hours on the town of Tewkesbury (News, 27 July
2007), writes Madeleine Davies. More than 1800
homes were flooded, and three people died. This week, the Vicar of
Tewkesbury, Canon Paul Williams, and his wife, the Revd Catherine
Williams, offered some advice to those ministering in areas
affected by the floods.
They warned of the long-term
effects, mental-health issues, recurring nightmares, and physical
ailments, and also described the heroism of local people, and the
partnerships forged between churches and other agencies: "We had
often talked about community, and we thought we lived it, but it
was only under duress that we truly experienced
Pictures of Tewkesbury
Abbey, surrounded by water but rising above it (above), became "a
testament to survival and an icon of hope", they said.
Communities had been reminded that "we are a part of creation, and
not above it." Biblical texts and images of water had been "potent
and helpful in moving us forward".
They advised those
ministering in the floods
to keep a "corporate, public, daily rhythm of prayer"; listen to
people's stories; co-ordinate offers of help; and create
"liturgical opportunities to lament, journey, and celebrate". It
was also useful to create a list of counsellors, and learn about
post-traumatic stress disorder.
For further suggestions,