Reflecting on the 2014 flooding in Somerset
The first anniversary of the 2014 floods has been covered extensively in the media recently, a timely reminder of the desperation and devastation experienced by so many families and businesses last winter. Even today there are still some people who have not been able to return to their homes and we continue to support them on their journey.
Thankfully the majority of families are back in their communities. The lights are on in the evenings and something resembling normal life has returned. However, beneath the surface, the emotional effect of the upheaval, stress and financial hardship that the unprecedented levels of rainfall caused is still keenly felt.
While the priority of our Somerset Flood Relief Fund has been to help people recover their homes and protect their livelihoods, we have also been mindful that recovery is not just about ‘bricks and mortar’. Behind the scenes the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, also managed by Somerset Community Foundation in partnership with a committee of local Freemasons, has been investing in efforts to address these hidden needs.
First of all we have been supporting a range of community resources and activities that are helping normal life return, and through that, enable informal peer support amongst those who experienced the worst of the floods. By helping groups like the local village halls and the Pentathlon Carnival Club, and funding local coffee mornings and community meetings we have been helping community life return to normal. Secondly, we are supporting more direct assistance, for example by providing funding for an “Emotional Wellbeing” Worker, who will use their knowledge and links with their community to help those people who have suffered distress and emotional trauma resulting from their homes or business being flooded.
Building stronger communities through local groups and projects remains an important part of the recovery process. We are very keen to hear from groups or projects in the flood affected areas that are looking for funding. In the meantime we are also continuing to help individual households meet the costs of returning home, with £30,000 awarded during February.