Bishop of Taunton's flood appeal

(Andrew Matthews/PA)A view of flood water surrounding the village of Muchelney in the Somerset levels which has been isolated since early January.

The Bishop of Taunton has urged the Government to take immediate action to help those affected by floods in Somerset.

The Right Reverend Peter Maurice has written a letter to the bishops of the House of Lords in which he asks for their support in his petition and shares the levels of destruction caused by flooding that began before Christmas and which has been compounded by further rainfall.

Among the worst affected towns is Muchelney and its surrounding villages on the Somerset Levels, where families have struggled with "heartbreaking" situations, the bishop writes.

"Farms and other businesses [are] unable to operate normally, and homes made unbearable by the flooding of domestic sewage systems," he explains, before noting that many people are now dependant on emergency vehicles to get them around.

The letter stresses the importance of urgent action, and calls on the bishops to use their "influence in the Lords" to request that the Government makes clear "what they propose to do" to help.

"Businesses will need help to recover. Householders will need support to physically restore their homes," Bishop Maurice writes, and underlines the necessity of taking action to prevent further flooding in the future.

The bishop also praises the work of the local church in Muchelney, noting that he is "very proud" of the way in which it has been a source of support and provision in time of need for its community.

"But action is needed now to help people, and the recovery phase must be properly planned and founded by Government if this awful scene is not to be repeated," he said.

He concluded his letter by saying, "I would be grateful for your support in this increasingly urgent matter."