March 7 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Flood wardens have begun knocking on doors across north Norfolk as more than 100 homes in Morston, Cley, Blakeney, Salthouse and Walcott prepare for tonight’s predicted storm surge.
The evacuation is set to last between 36-48 hours to cover three anticipated high tides and roads to the coast will be closed this afternoon.
In Blakeney 30 properties are to be evacuated. The Blakeney Hotel has 66 people staying and the hotel will be closing its flood door.
In Salthouse 23 properties will be evacuated and at 5pm a road closure will be put in place on the A149 coast road.
Walcott has 52 properties to be evacuated and the coast road will be closed.
The following warnings have been issued by the Environment Agency for the area between Morston and Walcott:
Walcott: Severe flood warning (issued 8.39am): for the forecast high water due at 7:45pm. The predicted tide level is 2.53m. The forecast surge height is 1.848m. The forecast tide level is 4.378m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Salthouse: Severe flood warning (issued 5.37am): the forecast high water is due at 8pm.
Blakeney: Severe flood warning (issued 5.35am): the forecast high water is due at 8pm. The predicted tide level is 2.960m. The forecast surge height is 1.896m. The forecast tide level is 4.856m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Sheringham to Winterton on Sea: Flood warning (issued 6.05am): the forecast high water is due at 7.30pm. The predicted tide level is 2.530m. The forecast surge height is 1.794m. The forecast tide level is 4.324m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Cley: Flood warning (issued 6.05am): the forecast high water is 8pm. The predicted astronomical tide level is 2.960m. The forecast surge height is 1.896m. The forecast tide level is 4.856m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Morston: Flood warning (issued 6.05am): the forecast high water is due at 8pm. The predicted astronomical tide level is 2.960m. The forecast surge height is 1.896m. The forecast tide level is 4.856m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Tidal Rivers Bure from Wroxham Bridge, Ant from Honing and Thurne from Hickling to Breydon Water including Stalham, Wroxham and Acle to Breydon Water: Flood alert (issued 7.48pm Wednesday): The forecast high water is due at 8pm. The predicted tide level is 2.960m. The forecast surge height is 1.896m. The forecast tide level is 4.856m. The forecast wind direction is North West. The forecast wind strength is force 7.
Where possible people have been told to make arrangements to stay with friends or relatives who do not live in the affected areas.
For those who cannot do this rest centres will be set up this afternoon.
Three severe Flood Warnings - meaning that there is a danger to life - have been issued by the Environment Agency for the stretch of the north Norfolk coast between Morston and Walcott.
High water is expected at Walcott, Salthouse and Blakeney between 7.45pm and 8pm tonight and the agency has issued its most severe warnings for the three communities.
Flood Warnings, indicating that flooding is expected and immediate action is required, have been issued for Sheringham to Winterton-on-Sea, Cley and Morston, between 7.30pm and 8pm.
John Marcucci, barman at Blakeney’s King’s Arms, in Westgate Street, which is close to the seafront, said it was business as usual today but they had sandbags ready and were prepared to put up a flood barrier against the front door.
“The feeling is not very good but luckily we have had a fair warning of this and we will be prepared,” he said.
Three flood wardens had warned villagers of the threat yesterday afternoon.
“We will stay open for as long as possible because we are the hub of the community and we have got plenty of food which could keep us going for two weeks.”
Mr Marcucci added that the last time the pub had put up its flood barrier was 2006 and it had not been flooded since 1978.
Flood wardens across north Norfolk are ready to put evacuation plans in place if needed later today.
A North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) spokesman said Rest Centres in Holt, Wells and Stalham had been contacted and would be available if required.
“We are not calling for evacuation of the potentially affected areas on our part of the coast yet, but are keeping a very close eye on the situation as it develops,” he added this morning.
“It’s likely a decision regarding evacuation will be taken in the early afternoon, but this might change – as with any weather situation, it is ever-changing and working with our partners we will make the necessary decisions accordingly.”
The public should remain on alert for any further messages and any households directly affected would be contacted in person, according to their local flood management plan.
NNDC could not help in the protection of individual homes – ensuring the safety of residents was the key priority.
Householders had been urged for a number of years to ensure that their homes were appropriately protected and that they had a means of “defence” available – for example flood boards and/or sandbags.
The council did not supply sandbags but had a list of suppliers on its website.
“This advice has applied to second-home owners just as much as to local residents,” said the spokesman.
Steve Bullimore, owner of the Lighthouse Inn at Walcott, said: “At the moment it is fine but the critical time is this evening. A lot of people are collecting their valuables out of their houses and getting themselves ready to be at the evacuation centre in the pub. We are making sure we have got plenty of milk and bread, a generator and have put on extra staff.
“My feeling is it could be quite serious this time. There is a genuine fear it could be serious somewhere along the coast.”
Homes on the seafront including Helena Road, St Helen’s Road and Poplar Drive could be evacuated before high tide tonight at 7.30pm.
Sylvia Andrews, secretary of Walcott Emergency Volunteers Association (WEVA), said: “We are expecting a lot of wind and possible evacuation – unless the wind swings round the other way. Everyone is on standby. We will take it as it comes. Everybody is organised and everybody knows what they have got to do. We just get on with it.
“Until this afternoon, we don’t know how bad it is going to be. It is hard to predict because things change so quickly but at the moment it doesn’t look good.”
Currently there are high winds in Walcott area but the tide is out and the gusts are heading out to sea.
NNDC, the Environment Agency, police and the coastguard are due to meet this lunchtime to discuss how to combat the severe weather along the north Norfolk coast.
WEVA members, made up of 12 flood wardens, are also due to meet at 4pm today.
Pauline Porter, chairman of Walcott Parish Council from Helena Road, said: “If the wind direction stays as it is we should be OK. It is currently blowing the sea outwards but I believe the wind forecast could change. We are making preparations just in case, There is nothing else we can do at the moment. We are also warning vulnerable people to be ready. Hopefully homes won’t need to be evacuated but it is a probability.”
She said flood wardens had been out warning villagers since 5am this morning and had heard Weybourne could get hit worse than Walcott.
Jerry Woodley, coastguard station officer for Sheringham, said it was business as usual and did not think the areas between Weybourne and Trimingham would be too badly affected after high tide, at about 7.45pm tonight, because of the cliffs. He did warn people not to go on the beaches tonight.
Neil Thompson, secretary of Blakeney Harbour Boatman’s Association, said this morning’s tide around Blakeney and Morston was lower than it should have been which was “worrying” and said: “It is not looking good.”
“It is going to be one of the biggest tides we have had in a number of years. It is a worry. There are people who have got houses along the front of the quay at Blakeney which are at risk. Everyone at risk was called last by flood wardens who are considering evacuating certain areas in Morston. The main concern is for property and people,” he added.
Norfolk police have said property owners would receive a personal visit from a police officer or member of police staff if they were required to evacuate.
“It is anticipated disruption is likely to last for 36 hours and local communities will be kept updated throughout,” said a spokesman.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb urged people to heed warnings: “The tidal surge expected will be higher than during the floods in 2007. This is a serious incident, and I am glad that the Environment Agency and Norfolk County Council are working closely with local flood wardens to monitor the situation and ensure that local people are protected. I have been in contact with councillor Marie Strong and with the area manager at the Environment Agency, Charles Beardall. The Prime Minister has also convened Cobra in London to manage the government’s response to the weather.
“I would urge people in at-risk areas across north Norfolk, in particular Wells, Blakeney, Salthouse, and Walcott, to monitor local updates, and to keep away from areas of danger – in particular coastal paths and the seafront. It is also critically important that people listen to instructions from flood wardens and the police and that, if they need to evacuate their houses, they follow instructions promptly and safely.”
Photo gallery: Huge Norfolk evacuation operation begins from Hunstanton to Great Yarmouth