YARMOUTH AREA: Safety warning for flood “sightseers” - including some with young children - as high tide passes, meanwhile Hemsby’s old lifeboat shed claimed by the sea

The predicted high tides hit Great Yarmouth. Home owners make up sandbags on Southgates Road.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY The predicted high tides hit Great Yarmouth. Home owners make up sandbags on Southgates Road. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Friday, December 6, 2013
1:13 AM

Police have warned flood “sightseers” at the seafront and North Quay areas of Great Yarmouth that they are putting their safety at risk.

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The predicted high tides hit Great Yarmouth. Home owners make up sandbags on Southgates Road.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYThe predicted high tides hit Great Yarmouth. Home owners make up sandbags on Southgates Road. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Police have warned flood “sightseers” at the seafront and North Quay areas of Great Yarmouth that they are putting their safety at risk.

They said people still trying to drive and walk across the flooded area of North Quay, which is now closed.

In the Gorleston area, from Riverside Road to the Ocean Rooms, and on to the beach and amusements, large crowds – including people with small children on their shoulders – are gathering very close to the seafront. There are serious concerns for their safety and police officers will be visiting this area to urge these groups away from danger.

Haven Bridge is also now closed and people are standing on the bridge trying to get a better view of the flooding.

Chief Inspector Kate Thacker said: “Some of these people have no concept of the danger they are putting themselves in and we are urging pedestrians to keep away from the flood water and sea front and for traffic to avoid the town centre.

Acle New Road, between Breydon Bridge and North Quay has also recently been closed to traffic as a result of flood water.

The River Yare water level breached the sea defences at South Quay after 9.30pm.

Dozens of locals came out to watch, standing on Haven Bridge and the quayside taking pictures.

Boats moored in the river were raised to above road level, and were seen making adjustments.

Meanwhile, there were also reports of roads being flooded in Gorleston.

At around 11pm, Superintendent Neil Baily of Norfolk Police, speaking from Great Yarmouth, said: “Even now the high tide has passed; we have to keep a watching brief of the situation as the water could continue to rise.

“There is still a risk for another hour or so after high tide and we’re not really going to know of any breaches of the defences until that has passed.

“In terms of the seafront, we have not had any particular issues but it is still very busy out there.

“At the moment we are in Southtown and Gorleston where some water has come across a few roads but it is not known yet if it has breached homes.

“We are also trying to keep people safe as a lot of people are going to the water to have a look. We’re asking people to stay away from the water’s edge and keeping up the police presence.”

Meanwhile, Hemsby’s old lifeboat shed along with two bungalows on the fragile dunes were claimed by the sea tonight.

Members of the public who were attending a fundraising night at the Lacon Arms in Hemsby rallied to a local couple when it became clear their bungalow on The Marrams was about to collapse.

The couple who live there were at the Lacon Arms fundraiser when their home disappeared. They are now being taken to stay with friends.

Pub landlady Lorna Bevan-Thompson said the devastated couple are “shell shocked” but safe.

“We saw what was coming, got a few people together and tried our best to get what we could from the bungalow,” said Mrs Bevan-Thompson.

“But we didn’t get much; a computer, a couple of chairs and some photographs.

“It’s just awful.”

The old Hemsby lifeboat shed, which has borne the brunt of the coastal erosion at Hemsby gap this year and was abandoned back in October, has also been claimed by the North Sea, as an empty bungalow on the Marrams which was evacuated during the stormy weather two months ago.

The man who lived in the bungalow was moved to bed and breakfast accommodation by Great Yarmouth Borough Council at the time, and has been there since.

There are also reports that Caister’s seafront café has been badly damaged, possibly taken completely, by the encroaching sea.

Great Yarmouth College announced this evening it would be closed on Friday due to the floods.

Previously, Major Simon Ward, of the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley, said 65 troops from B and C squadrons are on stand-by at Gorleston fire station.

He said: “We’re still awaiting tasking from the fire service, but we’ve under gone some training in flood barrier erection and are waiting to assist should we need to.”

He said the squadron was called at 4.30pm.

A fire and rescue boat from the Devon and Somerset brigade was also on scene.

A tweet from the brigade reads: “One of our #Fire Rescue Boats that have been sent to #GreatYarmouth - on stand-by!”

Ian Scott, director of the Pier Hotel, at Gorleston seafront, said guests have been ushered upstairs.

He added there has not been a compulsory evacuation of the hotel, but guests have been made aware of the situation and asked if they would like to leave.

“We’ve given guests a choice whether they want to vacate,” he explained. “We’ve given them all candles.

“If the water gets into the basement it would knock out the electricity.”

Earlier, scores of people were leaving their homes in Southtown, fearing serious flooding tonight as a surge tide arrives in Great Yarmouth.

Families moved all their valuables upstairs, boarded up doors and could be seen wheeling sandbags through the streets in wheelie bins.

Alan Thompson, 59, lives in Lichfield Road, around 200m from the River Yare.

The retired tiler recalls the floods in 2006, which wreaked damage on homes just two doors down from him, and was taking no chances.

Mr Thompson, who lives with his mother Irene, 84, loaded up his car with possessions and planned to stay with his sister in Burgh Castle.

“We’ve moved 90pc of our stuff upstairs,” he explained. “We blocked the drain covers as we didn’t want sewage to come through the house.”

He had 60 sandbags left over from the last flood, and used these to defend his terraced home.

He said he got call from the Environment Agency at 5.30am but “they just said to us there was a potential high tide”.

As the scale of the threat dawned on him, they decided to leave their home.

They had initially bought candles and filled pans with water, anticipating power cuts.

Further down Lichfield Road, 25-year-old Simon Turbey was putting sandbags outside his home.

The father only moved to the area a fortnight ago with his fiance Danielle Butterfield, 32, and seven children between them, aged from six months to 15.

“We weren’t going to put sandbags out but we thought better safe than sorry,” said Mr Turbey.

They got the free sandbags from Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and plan to stay with family in the Barrack Estate.

But they said they are fearful their possessions could be stolen while they are away, and tried not to worry their children.

They have moved possessions - including their pet parrot - upstairs.

Miss Butterfield said: “We didn’t know how to explain it to the children as we didn’t want to scare them or they wouldn’t sleep.

“We said there would be some bad weather and we were going to grandad’s.”

Rest centres were set up in schools, as the Great Yarmouth borough braced itself for what it was thought could be the worst surge tide in three decades.

Half a dozen emergency hubs were established at Flegg High School, Martham Primary School, Caister High School, Cliff Park High School, Ormiston Venture Academy and Lynn Grove High School. As of last night Caister was full.

Earlier today, Norfolk Police temporary chief superintendent Roger Wiltshire urged people to leave affected homes and stay with friends or relatives until the emergency is over.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Trevor Wainwright said: “This is very serious situation we’re in.

“The projected surge is a foot higher than in 2008 and, in that case, it will reach the walls and breach our defences.”

Both Breydon and Haven Bridges in Yarmouth remained open, but the weather did effect travel.

Castle Lane in West Caister blocked both directions between West Road and A1064 junction because of a fallen tree and First said all Great Yarmouth town bus services stopped at 8pm, with the last bus from the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston at 8.30pm.

As the river started to rise, more people were heading to the rest centres across the borough.

Sam Thomson was co-ordinating the operation at Ormiston Venture Academy, in Oriel Avenue, Gorleston.

She said the Environment Agency called them at 10am, and wheels were set in motion.

Workers from Great Yarmouth Borough Council delivered 40 beds to the school, which are set up in the main hall, and further inflatable beds.

Mrs Thomson said the school had 100 of its own camp beds - used on activity weekends - and has set them up in the sports hall in case demand is high.

“Since we started the work here we notified our catering team and staff,” she explained. “We were asked to close the school at 12pm.

“They kitchen staff converted what was going to be the school lunch into soup, hot rolls and sandwiches so we’re ready to go.”

Up to 20 staff will work on a rota basis, and the school has already received calls from people wanting to volunteer.

“We have a lecture theatre ready to show movies and we have a games room so if we have any children come with their parents we have the capacity to create some fun,” said Mrs Thomson. “We’ve organised with staff who live in the local community and aren’t in the flood area to come in.

“It’s quite surreal.”

Staff from Peterhouse Primary School and Herman Primary School also volunteered to help at the rest centre.

Pam Reed, cook manager at Ormiston Venture, said the last time a rest centre was set up at the school was in 2006.

She recalled up to 300 people needed their help.

“We’ve adapted whatever food we were going to be doing,” she said. “We shall be here for however long it takes and my staff are all coming in at different times as well.”

The school took delivery of milk, bread, fruit and other supplies from Tesco, which kindly donated the items free of charge, in addition to the school dinner food.

Special provisions had been made at Cliff Park High School for people with disabilities.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Norfolk Police’s chief superintendent Roger Wiltshire said: “For those of you who were in the Yarmouth area in 2007, this flood warning is more severe,” he said.

“In 2007 we did advise people to evacuate their homes and flood water was very narrowly below the defences so there was no flooding. I need to emphasise that event is more severe than the one in 2007.

“There are officers visiting the 9,000 homes in the affected areas, advising them to make arrangements to stay with friends or family and to evacuate their homes for their own safety.

“If people are unable to do this due to illness or disabily, you can contact police or the district council and arrangements can be made to take you to one of the seven rest centre we have set up across the borough or to another a place of safety.

“There are a limted places at the respite centre across the borough.”

“I would stress that this is not short term issue. We are talking about three tides - the first at 10.45pm tonight, then at 10am tomorrow and the third tomorrow evening at about 9.30pm-10pm.

“This is a 36-48 hour evacuation. It’s really important people understand that.”

Asked if officers will be available through the night and into tomorrow, Mr Wiltshire said dozens of extra officers have been drafted in and will remain until the emergency is over.

Mr Wainwright added that council staff will be on hand at rest centres.

There is also a 24 hour telephone helpline: 01493 856100.

Mr Wainwright said that while the region had a “good resiliance plan in place”, this was a serious situation.

“We have to look back to 1953 floods,” he said.

“This is very serious situation we’re in. The projected surge is a foot higher than in 2008 and, in that case, it will reach the walls and breach our defences.”

He estimated that 15,000 people - “maybe more” - could be displaced if the storm surge and flooding is as bad as predicted.

And with only 1,500 places available at the rest centres, people who evacuate are asked to seek safety with friends and relatives in the first instance.

9 comments

  • So many people have panicked yet want to risk their lives by getting so close to the sea for a photo. It is far worse in Lowestoft.

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Friday, December 6, 2013

  • Much ado about nothing.

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • some parents there with 4 year old kids on a freezing school night at 10.00pm, unbelievably stupid.

    Report this comment

    Gorlestonboy7

    Friday, December 6, 2013

  • Wheelie Bins Flying Across The Roads Hitting Parked Cars!

    Report this comment

    Fuji

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • Unbelievable. Wes 1975 ,wake up to reality and Step outside your ivory tower

    Report this comment

    phillip mitchell

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • Oh! wes 1975 - you are well'ard and sooooo cool.

    Report this comment

    wallywalnut

    Friday, December 6, 2013

  • Much ado about nothing.

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • Much ado about nothing.

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

  • Great Yarmouth will have a soggy Bear. What a Pleasure that is to see on the hills !

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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