The Revd Gary Crellin, Vicar of Powick, Old Hills Malvern benefice in the Church of England, describes what ‘building the ark’ has looked like in his local setting after flooding in early 2020:
The village of Powick in England nestles in the hinterlands between the Malvern hills and Worcester. It also straddles the flood plains of the Rivers Teme and Severn. As this winter has been more wet than frosty, the main road has flooded intermittently since the middle of last year, but not at the scale and duration as this past February.
The last time the River Teme flooded in such a dramatic fashion was in 2007, but local residents could not have predicted that February’s floods would be worse than then. Sixteen houses in this small community were affected, with residents being put up in local hotels or hosted by families. Roads were closed though the village, including the arterial road between Worcester and Malvern. Only now can damage and the extent of loss, both physically and spiritually, be assessed.
St Peter’s Church was keen to help. The church in Powick commands a clear view of the flood and my first reaction was to sell everything and cash in our investments—we need wood and tar to build an Ark! In the end, an ark was what we provided. In response to community need, I opened the church to receive donations of food, cleaning materials and bedding to help those that really needed our help.
Over a hundred people arrived with donations over two nights and the church was given over to a big ‘Bring and Share’ opportunity. As well as donations, we heard people’s stories and provided opportunities just to hold in prayer those families so afflicted by this painful experience.
The pastoral need in one part of the village can only now be assessed because the roads are again passable and access to the scene is possible. I have heard of families that had to be rescued by Fire and Rescue by pontoon barge.
The damage is extensive—some families have lost such a lot in terms of possessions and livelihood. I know that the churches can be used to support those in need after the initial burst of helpful support has passed and the cold realisation of what lies ahead becomes apparent. We need to be there to journey alongside these people who will be journeying through the shock, pain and stress of this predicament, not just this week but in the months to come.
Reproduced from theMarch 2020 IAFN newsletter.