14 February 2014
by David Giles

THE Salvation Army is assisting many hundreds of people affected by ongoing floods across the south of England. Persistent rain since before Christmas has left large areas of farmland and countryside under several inches of water, with storm-force winds and torrential downpours making a bad situation worse. In some areas rural roads have become impassable, leaving some communities completely cut off. Many hundreds of people have been flooded out of their homes, with thousands left without power.

View Salvation Army response to UK floods: February 2014 in a larger map

In the Somerset town of Bridgwater, in the west of England, The Salvation Army has been on hand 24/7 to offer a listening ear to people affected by the severe weather. A place of safety and calm has been provided in two council-organised centres, and local residents have donated clothes and food. Other Salvation Army teams are on standby to provide assistance if required.

The Salvation Army's Hadleigh Farm, working with Essex Young Farmers, has sent animal feed and straw to farmers in the south-west.

A Salvation Army mobile canteen has also been deployed to Kenley Pumping Station at Purley in south London, which is in danger of being flooded. Volunteers will be on-site for the next few days providing support to emergency services and Croydon Citadel Corps (Salvation Army church) is on standby should a rest centre be required.

In the south-east of England, Kent County Council has asked The Salvation Army to provide a shuttle service for isolated pensioners in the village of Kingston, where bus services are currently disrupted. Elsewhere in Kent a team has also been to Yalding and Bridge, near Canterbury, to provide much-needed food and hot drinks to emergency responders.

A similar ministry to firefighters is being carried out by the London South-East support vehicle, usually based at Croydon but now serving around Maidenhead, to the west of London.

Thames Valley badly affected

As communities around the River Thames continue to be badly hit, The Salvation Army has set up an emergency support centre at its church (corps) in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, which is acting as a food collection point for victims of the floods. It is also a rest centre and feeding station for emergency services and military personnel who are helping those affected. Staines Corps is working with Surrey County Council, with food being contributed by the Tesco supermarket chain.

Nearby Addlestone Corps has been turned into a depot for food, toiletries and cleaning equipment. A team of volunteers has been sorting through donations and delivering them to agencies and emergency services for distribution to people affected by the floods.

The officer (minister) in charge of Addlestone Corps, Major Ian Loxley, says: 'We have about 1,000 homes affected here. We are starting to get people coming to us in need of food and clothing. We have also found that people living in mobile homes in the area have been particularly in need of our assistance.'

Support for firefighters

Soldiers and friends from Reading Central Corps have agreed to provide support at Whitley Fire Station in Reading, which is being used as a base for firefighters from around the country. [See ITV Meridian news coverage]

National Emergency Response Coordinator Major Muriel McClenahan adds: 'Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the floods. The Salvation Army's emergency response teams are working hard to support those whose homes have had to be evacuated or who are affected in other ways. As always, we'll continue to provide support to emergency services and those affected for as long as we're needed.'


Tags: Europe, Emergencies