THE Rector of Wainfleet, the Revd Gary Morgan SSC, paid tribute to the tenacity of his parishioners after the Lincolnshire town was engulfed by floodwater last week.
“The community has been great,” Fr Morgan said on Wednesday. “They have all pulled together. Everyone has just got on with it. I am really proud of them. Members of my church have helped out, doing all sort of things. The community has really worked together.”
Almost 130 homes in Wainfleet were flooded, and the occupants of another 590 — about half the town’s population — were evacuated as a precaution, after two months’ rain fell in two days, causing the River Steeping to burst its bank.
“A lot of my parish have been moved out, but some have refused to go,” Fr Morgan said. “I think we are going to be OK now: the water is dropping, the danger is still present, but not imminent. Quite a few people have returned to their homes which were not flooded. One of my parishioners, who had to be rescued by boat, is staying with family away from here, and others are lodging with friends and family.”
Fr Morgan has been helping at the Coronation Hall, where many of the evacuees have been given temporary shelter. On Tuesday, he was joined there by the Suffragan Bishop of Grimsby, Dr David Court. “Spirits there were very high” Fr Morgan said. “People are keen to get back home. One of my parishioners has put a caravan on his drive while he waits for his home to dry out.”
At the weekend, Fr Morgan raised £410 for the Wainfleet Disaster Fund from members of the Saturday beer club in Batemans Brewery, where he is works chaplain. “They were very generous, and the money will go to help those washed out of their homes,” he said.
Mr Morgan has also been checking on one of the four churches in his benefice, St Mary’s, which has been targeted by lead thieves three times in recent months. “The roof is only patched up until we can find £100,000 to repair it; so the rain got in last week. So far, it has not seriously damaged anything, it just smells a bit damp, but we have had people watching in case more bad weather hits.”
The rescue services have advised people to stay away from the town until the weekend, and Anglian Water has asked those still in their homes to avoid using lavatories, showers, and washing machines owing to a strain on the sewerage system.
The Environment Agency brought in high-capacity pumps to reduce the water level, and, earlier this week, it said that it had pumped away the equivalent of 225 Olympic-sized swimming pools. An RAF helicopter was called in to repair the breach in the riverbank with more than 300 bags of gravel.
Tamara Lowndes, a Wainfleet resident, described the situation as “really frightening”. “I’ve lived here 44 years, and I’ve never ever seen anything like this,” she said. “It really has been like a freak accident. It’s not something I want to see again. My 16-year-old son was wading through water, taking sandbags, and it was coming up to his waist.
“The community have been incredible. We’ve had people from the surrounding areas bringing in food, donating money. It really has been incredible. Hopefully, we’ll get Wainfleet back.”