As I write this, about 1,400 homes and businesses in the UK have been affected by floods following first Storm Ciara and then Storm Dennis. Around 140 flood warnings are in place, including six severe – or ‘danger to life’ – warnings. Thousands of people have been evacuated and left at least temporarily homeless, and no less than four people have died.

With heavy rainfall predicted over the next few days, these figures will probably be even higher by the time you read this. In the UK, churches are often amongst the first to open their doors to disaster-hit communities. On Monday, Herefordshire Council tweeted that the vicar of St Martin’s Church had welcomed in anyone in need of refreshments, as had Hereford FC and other local community venues.

I’m fairly unaffected by the storms here in London, but I’ve been watching the devastating photos and videos in the news. Towns in Wales are among the places in the UK that have been hit by the storms, and only this week my colleagues at the Evangelical Alliance Wales spoke solemnly of the challenges the nation faces and how prayer and practical support are needed. 

These horrendous weather conditions that are, according to forecasts, set to continue, have brought to mind other floods, including the catastrophic damage to New Orleans, USA, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which resulted in more than 1,200 deaths, and the overwhelming destruction in Kerala, India, which killed around 500 people in 2018


Whether my colleagues in a neighbouring nation, or strangers across the world, is it not my responsibility as a child of God to care and help where possible? On the back of a lawyer asking Jesus, Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29), Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan, who helped a man struck by thieves. Yes, the Good Samaritan was able to help the man because he was on the same road – and it will always be easier and more practical for us to help those geographically closest to us – but the parable also demonstrates that our neighbours are not just the people like us but are also those we do not expect. 

The people or communities we sense the Holy Spirit prompting us to help may be around the corner, but they may also be entirely unexpected. In 1 Kings 17, a famine hits the land of Israel and the surrounding nations. Jesus later recalls, I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon” (Luke 4:25 – 26).

At various times in my life I have been frustrated with those who spend gaps years abroad, when there are plenty of projects in the UK that could use their service, but also with people who express disinterest in situations overseas, because of the great need they see in their own communities. The reality of course is that we should care about both, just as God does. Some people feel stirred to move overseas, but still support the communities they’ve left behind. Others give their heart to their local community but support charities, churches or individuals in other parts of the UK and overseas.

In some ways, the fact that I am seeing the flooding from Storm Dennis on television and computer screens makes it seem as far away as that in New Orleans or Kerala. Modern news can bring distant events closer to my door, but they can also make everything, even things down the road, seem like they’re happening in some far away TV land’. Either way, I’m seeing people who need help, and Jesus encouraged us to think beyond geographic and social divides and to respond to such needs.

So, amid these challenging conditions, how can we respond? While some will be able to offer a place of safety like St Martin’s Church in Herefordshire, and others will be in a position to give to flood-recovery fundraising drives such as that organised by Temple Baptist Church, Pontypridd, all are able to bring families, communities and the UK’s public services before the throne of God, praying for: 

  • The country’s ambulance services and fire and rescue services
  • Wisdom and resources so that local and national governments can develop further robust flood-prevention plans 
  • People who have been evacuated from their homes
  • Churches and other civic centres that are supporting those affected
  • Communities across the world that are facing daily the impact of extreme weather