The Salvation Army is bringing welcome relief to those forced to leave their homes in areas of central and southern England hit by severe flooding.
As the rains continue to fall, Salvation Army personnel are assisting evacuees in one of the worst-hit towns, Tewkesbury, where the Salvation Army hall is providing a warm place to stay for 20 people forced out of their homes by the high waters.
The town has virtually become an island and many of the buildings and homes remain without water and electricity. The Salvation Army team has spent Monday bringing sleeping bags and clothing to those in need by boat or wading through the deep water.
In Gloucester, meanwhile, The Salvation Army has provided a welcome respite for flood victims by serving hot meals and drinks at an emergency canteen on the outskirts of the town.
In Cheltenham, The Salvation Army's own meeting hall was flooded over the weekend. Despite this, the branch's Major Diane Henderson was still able to dispatch a team of volunteers to provide support at a rest centre in Evesham hosting 460 evacuees. The Salvation Army officers' residence in Evesham, unused at present, has also been opened up as temporary accommodation.
The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Selby, said: "The pictures of floods are awful to watch, and the experience of them must be terrible. It is rare for a disaster of this kind to affect so much of the country, and indeed so many of our parishes at once, and my prayers are with everyone in the affected places at this difficult time.
"I know that many members of the clergy and their congregations have been offering all sorts of practical help throughout the weekend and I know this will continue for as long as it's needed. This is a time not for comment but for compassion, and my heart goes out to all those who are suffering so much."
Weather forecasters bring news of yet more rain, however, and the River Severn and the Thames are on the brink of overflowing.
"We have by no means passed the peak of the ongoing emergency," said the Chief Constable Gloucestershire, Tim Brain.
The Environment Agency, which has already issued nine severe flood warnings, said that the situation will get worse before it gets better. Water levels in Gloucestershire have exceeded those of 1947 when severe floods devastated the county, it said.
Around 150,000 homes are already without their water supplies in Gloucestershire, according to Severn Trent Water, after a water treatment plant was flooded.
The water company has warned, however, that around 350,000 people will have their water supply cut off within the next 15 hours and are unlikely to have it switched on again for several days.
A major electricity substation has been turned off in Gloucestershire due to the flooding, leaving 15,000 homes without power.
Salvation Army Brings Relief to Flood-Hit Regions
Salvation Army personnel are bringing warm clothes, hot meals and some much-needed comfort to victims of the severe flooding in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
Published 23 July 2007 | Maria Mackay