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Parishes told to prepare for floods as Storm Christoph approaches

19 January 2021

PA

Emergency workers construct a temporary barrier along the River Ouse, in York, on Tuesday, as Storm Christoph threatens to bring widespread flooding, gales, and snow to parts of the UK

Emergency workers construct a temporary barrier along the River Ouse, in York, on Tuesday, as Storm Christoph threatens to bring widespread flooding, ...

ECCLESIASTICAL INSURANCE is urging incumbents and PCCs to take steps to protect their churches from flooding, as amber weather warnings were issued across the UK on Tuesday.

Storm Christoph is set to bring heavy rain and widespread flooding to parts of Wales and northern England this week. Two-months-worth of rain is predicted to fall in just 36 hours.

A major incident has been declared in South Yorkshire, where there is already widespread flooding. Flood barriers were being installed on Tuesday. The Flood Forecasting Centre, a collaboration between the Environment Agency and the Met Office, has issued amber alerts for rain in Yorkshire and the Humber region, the North West, East Midlands, and the east of England. In these areas, there was a “danger to life” from fast-flowing or deep floodwater, it warned.

The Association of British Insurers reports that the average cost of repairs caused by extreme winter weather in recent years has been between £20,000 and £40,000. Ecclesiastical Insurance received more than 1200 calls relating to flooding during storms Ciara and Dennis in 2020.

The risk management director at Ecclesiastical, Jo Whyman, said on Tuesday that making preparations, such as erecting flood barriers and clearing drainage, could make the difference for the one in six properties in England and Wales which are at risk of being flooded in the future.

“People living in an area that might be susceptible to any form of flooding need to be prepared. Developing a flood plan for your church, setting out how to respond if there is flooding, is a really important step.

“Think about ways to prevent water from entering the church, such as flood barriers and ensure any gullies or drainage channels are cleared out. If a flood warning is issued, try to move valuable items out of reach of flood levels, and keep up to date with the latest alerts from the Met Office or the Environment Agency.

“Make sure you have a list of key contacts such as the emergency services, an electrician, a gas-safe contractor, and your insurer in a safe and waterproof place.”

Ecclesiastical has also created a “risk calendar” with which churches can assess some of the risks to their buildings throughout the year, including having electrical wiring checked to help prevent fire, and reviewing security arrangements.

The insurers warn that, although the latest national lockdown has meant that some churches have closed, those that remain open for worship should ensure that they remain Covid-19 secure. Ecclesiastical has also made temporary cover enhancements relating to unoccupied premises.

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