Rain and gale force winds of up to 70 mph are battering Britain's coastlines, leading to widespread damage and flooding.
Storms began to hit the UK in the days before Christmas, leaving some
villages entirely cut off and other communities suffering catastrophic
amounts of damage.
In a statement to the Commons, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson
has said seven people have so far been killed and around 1,700 homes
flooded in England.
He also said there is a likelihood of more flooding "for some time to come" in Dorset and Wiltshire in particular.
The storms and generally bad weather are combining to make this
winter the worst in twenty years. The Environment Agency has issued 110
flood warnings, three of which are severe, while 196 are currently on
Communities up and down the country are struggling to contain the devastation as the relentless storms continue to wreck havoc.
Dorset is one of the counties experiencing some of the worst effects
of the storm. A Grade I-listed church in Charminster is under threat
from flood water which is backing up behind a listed bridge.
Reverend Janet Smith, vicar of St Mary the Virgin, has reported water
rushing into the church and lifting up the floor. It is now around 10
The bridge in question has been labelled as a major cause of flooding
for some time but has not been removed due to its Grade II listing.
Homes in the area are now also at risk.
Towns and villages across Cornwall are also among some of the worst
Perranporth, Penzance and Seaton have experienced colossal
damage, while Looe, which is one of the most frequently flooded towns in
the UK, is currently suffering from extreme flooding in its high
Local churches are responding to the needs of their communities as best they can.
"The churches are doing what you'd expect them to," said David Watson, communications officer for the Diocese of Truro.
"They are providing shelter and food for people who have been flooded
and who have damage to their properties, and they've been supporting
the rescue services.
"Churches themselves have largely escaped damage, but they are acting
as centres of support for local communities in the hardest hit areas.
"They know the locality, they know the people involved, and as a diocese we're supporting them in what they're doing."
Agencies are still advising that people avoid dangerous coastal
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