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Churches among buildings damaged by Storm Ciarán

03 November 2023

Diocese of Salisbury

St Nicholas’s, Grève d’Azette, Jersey, where high winds devastated the roof of the church

St Nicholas’s, Grève d’Azette, Jersey, where high winds devastated the roof of the church

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Stephen Lake, has asked for prayers for people affected by Storm Ciarán, and praised communities for their resilience in supporting both those who had suffered damage and those who had spent Thursday night in fear.

The deaneries of Guernsey and Jersey are attached to the diocese of Salisbury. A tornado was confirmed as hitting the south-east of Jersey, with hailstones up to ten centimetres in diameter, the size of tennis balls. Some people had to be moved from their homes for safety.

The Dean of Jersey, the Very Revd Mike Keirle, said in a press release put out by Salisbury diocese that there had been structural damage across the island, and that some old graves at St Mary had been ripped open when two ancient cedar trees fell. He said that the people of Jersey were still taking stock of the damage, and asked for prayers for the community.

The Rector of St Clement, Canon David Shaw, reported that high winds had torn tiles from the roof and blown in a window of its daughter church St Nicholas’s, Grève d’Azette, and that there had been damage also at St Peter La Rocque, in Grouville.

Guernsey fared better. The Dean, the Very Revd Tim Barker, said that islanders were grateful that the overnight damage had been less than originally feared. He posted on social media: “Relief that the effect of Storm Ciarán in Guernsey had been less than we had feared, sympathy for those whose property has been damaged, thanks to the local media for their reporting and to the blue light services and states of Guernsey for working to keep us safe.”

Parts of Dorset had also suffered damage, the diocese reported, including extensive flooding in rural and coastal areas. The storm came hard on the heels of Storm Babet last week, when churches and church halls were among thousands of buildings affected by severe flooding in parts of England and Scotland (News, 27 October). The Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Revd Mike Harrison, was among the thousands of people forced from their homes.

The Archdeacon of Exeter, the Ven. Andrew Beane, reported on social media on Friday: “Our house, car and garage were flooded in Storm Ciaron, but with support from insurance company, things will be sorted in time. We still have a roof over our heads.”

He said on Friday: “We’re fine. We’re fortunate. It’s nowhere near what it was like for the poor people of Jersey and Guernsey. Ours was rainwater than came off the hills on the edge of the village where we live. It flooded into the driveway, filled up the garage, filled up the car, and then hit the house, which pushed it back again.

“A small amount of water got in the house, but we’ve just got a muddy mess in the car, which is probably a write-off.”

Archdeacon Beane praised the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office, which, he said, had been “absolutely incredible”.

He drew attention in his post to the plight of Exeter’s homelessness centre, based at the small medieval church of St Petrock, in the city centre. The St Petrock’s charity described the centre on Friday as “full of wet, tired people this morning, who had no other option but to sleep out in the storm all night. Some had been forced to move to drier ground in the early hours of the morning after being woken by floodwater seeping into their tents and others.”

“Some of St Petrock’s clients live in tents on the edge of the city,” the Archdeacon said. “These people are going to be facing a winter of wet, cold, horrid conditions.” The charity, set up 20 years ago, and rooted in Christian heritage, is supported by many of the city’s churches.

Nine thousand homes in Cornwall had been left without power by Thursday afternoon. Parts of Suffolk were hit by 70-mph winds on Thursday, and more than 70 C of E primary schools were among those closed across Dorset, Sussex, and Hampshire. They included C of E schools at Kersey, Debenham, and Worlingworth.

A spokeswoman for Ecclesiastical said on Friday that the company had received 16 claims so far, but that no church schools had been affected.

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