In November last year
The media attention may have now gone, but the evidence of the major impact on people’s lives is still all too evident. I visited the area on Saturday accompanied by Rev Richard Teal, Chair of the Cumbria District, to hear the stories of those who were affected by the floods, to learn how the local churches responded, and to assure them of the ongoing prayers of Methodists throughout the Connexion.
We were met there by local minister Revd Sue Edwards, supernumery minister Revd Keith Rushton and his wife Heather, together with Rev Nicola Reynolds, superintendent minister in neighbouring circuit but also the lead for Churches Together in
Funds have been provided to enable a small kitchen area to be installed in the entrance of the church that has now become more of a free café. It has not only been a current help but it is also so they are “ready for next time”. We met Gloria who has been coming to the church every day since her home was flooded. She had gone out for lunch when the floods suddenly hit the town and has not been able to go back to her house since. She has now had to move elsewhere.
Local churches were at the heart of the emergency response. A disaster plan had been in place for a number of years and it was put in to action within hours of the seriousness of the situation being realised. Very quickly150 people had volunteered to help from local churches. It was noticed by everyone that the orange jackets of the emergency services were closely followed by the yellow jackets of volunteers from Churches Together. They worked in reception centres, sorted clothes, served meals, provided drinks on the streets and everywhere offered a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
After looking around Cockermouth, and seeing how the many damaged buildings were being repaired, we travelled on to Workington and saw clearly how powerful the force of the river had been with the destruction of the main bridge. Next week a temporary road and bridge will be opened, which will once again allow people to drive between the two parts of the town, instead of having to travel an 18 mile detour. We were told that the separation caused by the loss of the bridges had caused a noticeable increase in the cases of depression seen by local GPs.
Keswick too suffered flood damage, including the Methodist manse, which is still being repaired.
The Churches response to the floods was impressive and will not be forgotten here for many years.
On Sunday morning we travelled to the Kirkby Stephen, Appleby and Tebay Circuit where I was to preach at