Whilst Cumbria faces the continued misery of repeated flooding, now the City of York and its environs are experiencing water surges on a scale not seen since 2000. When on Saturday evening floodwater reached the electrics in the Environment Agency’s Foss Barrier, potentially rendering the pumps useless, it appears there was no choice but to lift the flood barrier, and allow large parts of the city to be inundated. Meanwhile there is serious flooding in Tadcaster, where the riverside by St Mary’s Church has been badly affected, along with many local homes and businesses. Between Christmas and the New Year this has been particularly difficult for individuals and families, many of whom will have been completely unprepared for the inundation which is currently happening.

Besides the shock and danger of the floods themselves, for those flooded out, the drying time and clean-up period will be long, tedious, costly, and sheer hard work. It is no surprise, however, to see the people of York responding with tremendous spirit, resolve, and generosity, to the plight of their flooded neighbours at this time. The City Council, the Emergency Services, and a great army of volunteers are rising to the challenge with characteristic courage and compassion. I want to express my thanks and appreciation to all those who are giving up their time to help and care for those who have been flooded out. You are our modern day Good Samaritans –I salute your readiness to respond to your neighbour’s need.

As expected the undercroft in my home here at Bishopthorpe Palace is flooded again – we are fortunate however that back in the 13th century they built with flooding in mind, such that when the water subsides it soon washes through the original flood drains made for the purpose. I am thankful for the foresight that went into planning all those years ago.

I know that a lot of work has gone into making more robust the flood defences in the City of York over recent years – it will be all the more disappointing to those who have laboured to achieve this, that we have not been able to prevent another serious flood in our beloved City. With climate change, things may not be on the scale here as elsewhere, such as in the South Pacific, where Margaret and I visited last summer. Whole island populations are preparing to leave their homes for good. However, these experiences certainly drive home for everyone the need for urgent action, both locally and globally.

There has been a particularly busy response to the floods on social media, which has enabled many to respond quickly to immediate needs for help. I congratulate those who have made the most of social media to gather support for those in dangeror in need of a helping hand. Others want to help but are not sure what to do. Many will have found local radio and the radio websites a helpful source of information. Be sure, there will be opportunities for people to respond generously to those in need – financially, with practical assistance, food, accommodation, and moral support. Please support local flood appeals in affected areas.

Remembering what the Psalmist said:
“The Floods have lifted up, O Lord,
The Floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their roaring,
More majestic than the thunders of
Mighty waters,
More majestic than the waves of the sea,
Majestic on high is the Lord! (Psalm 93:3-4)

Here is a prayer you may wish to use at this time of flooding:
O Lord our God, our very present help in time of trouble,
Hear our prayers for all those whose homes and businesses have been flooded.
May they know the care of friends and neighbours,
And the blessing of supportive communities.
Bless all those of our emergency services seeking to help those affected.
We thank you for their commitment, compassion, and courage.
Keep them safe from danger, and sustain them for their task.
Make us alert to the needs of others, and show us what we ourselves can do to help.
Though the storms rage, the rains fall, and the rivers rise, may we hold fast to love, hope and faith, and work together for the good of all.
We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus, our Saviour, Rescuer, and Lord.


If you would like to help people in York affected by flooding, you can do so via the York Disaster Fund. the Fund was set up by Archbishop David Hope in response to the 2000 floods. Please send cheques c/o City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA or through the HSBC Bank in Parliament Street. This Fund is a registered charity (it is not a Council department) with independent trustees.

York residents whose homes have been flooded, who have limited means and who are not adequately insured, may be eligible for help from York’s Disaster Fund. There's details on how to apply to the Fund here.