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Church stops flood ‘sharks’ cleaning up

15 January 2016


Aftermath: clearing up in Ballater Caravan Park, Aberdeenshire

Aftermath: clearing up in Ballater Caravan Park, Aberdeenshire

A GROUP of churches in Salford is underwriting unsecured loans to help people affected by the flooding to avoid turning to high-interest lenders for emergency funds.

The Area Dean of Salford, the Revd Lisa Battye, said that the deanery had given £3000 to Salford Credit Union as part of a £10,000 scheme for those whose homes had suffered flood damage.

The day the flood water began to go down, she said, loan sharks were out on the streets, leafleting affected homes.

“This is a deprived area, and some of the most deprived are those who have been affected by flooding. As the water began to go down, loan sharks were active in the area, leafleting homes. It’s appalling how some seek to profit from tragedies. Many, many people around here are uninsured.

“The £3000 is money we have collected over the years from churches in the deanery. It isn’t very much, but it will be used to help people get new cookers or sofas. It’s money we had put aside for a rainy day, and this was certainly one.”

Two churches in the Salford area were themselves flooded on Boxing Day, she said. Two other churches opened up to provide a refuge for residents who had to flee their homes.

The clean-up after the floods is likely to take many months, and insurers expect to pay out £1.3 billion in flood damage. The accountants KPMG have estimated, however, that the real cost of the storms will be much higher, about £5.8 billion, including improvements to flood defences, rebuilding costs, and lost revenue for businesses.

Flood warnings are still in force in parts of the UK, despite the cold snap that has brought snow to some parts of Scotland and the north of England.

One of the areas where flood warnings were still in place this week was York, which was badly affected in the December storms.

Archbishop Holgate’s School, which is a C of E academy, was used as a base by rescuers and by people seeking refuge from rising flood water in the city.

The school’s lay chaplain, Richard Nihill, said: “It is not often the car park contains a mobile police command unit, rescue boats, army lorries, a fish-and-chip van feeding tired rescue workers, and a mobile coffee van from Bridlington giving them warm drinks. Compassion is one of our school’s core Christian values, and it was wonderful that we could facilitate that concept being put into practice by caring for people from the locality and across the UK.”

Parts of Scotland experienced unprecedented flooding, particularly around Aberdeenshire.

The Church of Scotland Minister of Kintore, the Revd Neil Meyer, said that two people displaced by the flooding were staying in his manse. Three areas of the town were under water, and the church youth worker, and the organist, who live in Ballater, were among those affected.

“It was absolutely frightening,” he said. “Folk who have been here for ever say it’s the highest level the Don has ever reached in Kintore.”

The community of about 5000 received help from local employees of the oil industry, and a rugby team, among others.

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