Even as parched Latter-day Saints in California fast and pray for moisture, members in southwest England are helping their neighbors impacted by a historic period of rain and flooding.
Folks from the Taunton Ward, Bristol England Stake, have been enlisted in various capacities to help neighbors clean up, even as deluges continue to plague the region. The flooding has displaced more than 5,000 families in the United Kingdom
No members have been directly impacted by the floods, but all living in the Somerset Levels communities have been affected in some form by the ongoing disaster.
Bishop Mark Tutton typically drives five minutes to reach his office. Now his commute takes over 30 minutes as he navigates each morning around inundated roads.
Residents in the region have endured what’s been reported as the wettest January in England in more than two centuries. And February has brought much of the same as heavy rains have pushed rivers far over the banks. Sitting at sea level, the Somerset Levels are particularly vulnerable to flooding caused by heavy rains and rising tides.
Sandbags have become part of the local landscape in many flooded regions. A sizable portion of those bags have been filled by local Latter-day Saints.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, Bishop Tutton dismissed all able-bodied members from Sabbath services to help with community sandbagging efforts. It saddened the bishop and other members to see the homes of their neighbors filled with filthy, contaminated water.
Meanwhile, the Taunton Ward meetinghouse continues to be used a collection center where flood victims can find food and other provisions donated by the members and many of their neighbors.
“We have had hundreds and hundreds of people drop off food and water and clothing,” said Bishop Tutton.
Both local and national news agencies have covered the members’ humanitarian efforts.
Latter-day Saints throughout the Bristol England Stake and neighboring stakes are anxious to help as well. Plans are being made for a massive “Helping Hands” clean-up project as soon as the weather improves and flood levels recede.