REGIONAL PICTURE: Warning about more floods with morning tide; crumbling cliffs warning for north-west Norfolk coast; Wells lifeboat station damaged; high tide set to hit Ipswich at 2am; police safety warning for Great Yarmouth “sightseers”
01:58 06 December 2013
Wells lifeboat station has emerged as a victim of the huge tidal surge, and police have warned people to stay away from crumbling cliffs along the coastline between Hunstanton and Snettisham.
An Environment Agency director has warned that floods in various parts of England could continue with the next tide.
Steve Moore issued a statement on Twitter saying: “For many locations this flood event will be repeated on at least the next tide and maybe the one after that”.
The organisation currently lists 43 severe and 67 serious warnings in the Anglia region.
Police urged walkers to avoid part of the north-west Norfolk coast between Hunstanton and Snettisham following reports overnight of crumbling cliffs.
The issue has been reported from the shingle bank along the coastline between Hunstanton and Snettisham.
The area, which is too great a distance to be closed, is currently considered dangerous to walkers, with a risk of further erosion under foot.
There is also damage to shingle bank and concerns of re-flooding. Road closures in this area remain in place.
Huge waves swept through Wells boathouse, reaching up to ten feet. One corner of the boathouse has its outer cladding ripped off and interior wooden panelling was damaged. Then when the tide receded it left behind in the boathouse around twenty tons of shingle and gravel.
Lifeboat operations manager Chris Hardy said, “I’ve never seen anything like it. We had to open the doors at both ends of the main boathouse to let the sea surge through. Otherwise it would have taken these doors out too.”
A local authority rescue centre has been set up in Ipswich as unusually high water is expected in the town.
The high tide hit Lowestoft and other areas of the Suffolk coast on the evening of Thursday 5 December and is expected to hit Ipswich at around 2am.
Police have issued a late-night warning to flooding “sightseers” in Great Yarmouth, saying they are putting their lives at risk.
Police said people are still trying to drive and walk across the flooded area of North Quay, large crowds – including people with small children on their shoulders – are gathering very close to the seafront in the Gorleston area, and Haven Bridge is closed but people are standing on it 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.”
Meanwhile, firefighters in Lowestoft rescued a man trapped in his home in London Road South, using a rescue boat and a ladder in the 11pm operation.
Station Square, Riverside Road and parts of London Road South were under several feet of water by 10pm.
The manager and secretary of the National Coastwatch Institution station in East Runton, near Cromer, had a lucky escape when a section of cliff collapsed just yards from the building.
Secretary Ian Arnold said he and manager Mike Darbyshire had rushed to the station to be an extra pair of eyes and ears for the emergency services, but found themselves in danger when a six metre section of cliff fell into the sea.
He said they were concerned the second high tide tomorrow morning could see the station itself topple into the sea.
The lifeboat shed at Hemsby and two bungalows have fallen into the sea as tonight’s huge tidal surge swept south down the coast of the region.
As of 11pm the tidal surge was still causing problems in Lowestoft, with the centre of the town under several feet of water and traffic being prevented from crossing the Bascule Bridge because of flooded access at both ends
Meanwhile, at Yarmouth, 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.
Water had started rushing through the streets of Lowestoft.
Belvedere Road, near Asda supermarket, is completely underwater, along with London Road South by the Hollywood Cinema. Police officers are stopping vehicles travelling through the water, although one lorry driver attempted to make it through, much to the amazement of onlookers.
Hundreds of people are rushing to the coast to see the water in action despite being told to evacuate the area.
In a statement, Waveney District Council said: “Waveney District Council is urging residents in threatened properties to vacate as soon as possible.
“Reports suggest that the tide is far higher, far earlier than expected and residents shold not presume to wait until immediately before the predicted surge peak at around 11pm”
“The rest centres in Lowestoft, Kessingland, Southwold and Carlton Colville are now open and receiving people.”
At 8pm, police said the Caister High rest centre in Great Yarmouth was full, but other centres are still open.
Police from around the country have been drafted into the region to help deal with the severe weather, while Devon and Somerset fire rescue boats have been sent to Great Yarmouth, where they are on standby.
65 troops from B & C squadrons of the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley, are on stand-by in Gorleston awaiting orders from the fire service, and 100 serviceman from RAF Honington are being put on standby.
In King’s Lynn the River Ouse burst its banks and flooded onto South Quay and Purfleet Quay, with police trying to move crowds back from the defences surrounding the Purfleet.
Coastguards rescued six fishermen from Cromer pier, where water is almost to the decking and like a river on the prom. There is also some seawall damage.
Flood waters have covered King’s Lynn’s quays and the South Promenade in Hunstanton, as high water nears.
Water has surged into The Golden Fleece pub in Wells, six months after it was taken over by Paddy McAloon. He said he was “excited and gutted”.
Water is a waist-height in part of Blakeney and waves are crashing over the road in Walcott, where police have shut the road and are not letting anyone in.
Around a foot of water is on the road according to flood wardens, and around 30 people are in The Lighthouse Inn evacuation centre, having food and drink and keeping warm.
Allan Urquhart, who lives on the seafront, rowed to the pub to collect a friend and said the pair would stay on the first floor of his home tonight.
He said: “I’m confident as I can be. This is the worst flooding I have seen so it could be a difficult night for lots of people.”
Transport has been hit, with Greater Anglia advising rail passengers not to travel between Norwich and Colchester.
East Midlands trains asked people not to travel unless necessary, and said trains from Norwich were delayed by up to an hour.
First Norwich will cut buses in Great Yarmouth from 8pm.
Many roads have been affected by fallen trees or cables, and trains between Norwich and Diss cancelled.
UK Power Networks said it was aware of power cuts in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey took to Twitter just before 6pm to urge resident to heed police advice, writing: “Please heed the advice given if you are visited by officers. We’re here to help you.”
Norfolk police have no current plans to shut Breydon or Haven bridges.
At 5.45pm Great Yarmouth Police said: “At this time Breydon and Haven bridges in Yarmouth remain open and all electricity sub stations continue to function normally.”
One of Norfolk’s largest ever evacuation operations is underway, with thousands of people set to leave their homes and seek refuge from the looming floods.
There are now 35 severe flooding warnings in the East Anglia region.
Steve Hayman, Environment Agency’s area coastal advisor for Norfolk, was in Wells this afternoon.
He said: “Tidal predictions are the same as they were in the 1978 floods, but we are confident the flood defences we have in place now will stop the properties which were flooded before from being flooded again.”
Norfolk police has said there will be a 36 to 48 hour evacuation which covers three anticipated high tides.
Where possible people are being encouraged 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 are being set up this afternoon.
Norfolk’s Deputy Chief Constable Charlie Hall, who is leading the multi-agency response, said: “This is a significant policing operation underlined by the number of people and properties affected over the next two days.
“We understand people may be anxious, but we would like to reassure residents that Norfolk has tried and tested flood response plans which are being put in place, in line with Environment Agency advice.
“Such disruptions are entirely necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved and for the evacuation to be conducted in a planned and organised manner.”
The high tide is due to reach Kings Lynn by 7pm, moving on to Great Yarmouth by 10.30pm and Lowestoft by 10:45pm. It is expected to progress south down the coastline through the evening.
Properties in the South Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, Caister, Southtown and Cobholm areas of Great Yarmouth are being evacuated.
The following rest centres are now open: Flegg High, Martham Primary, Caister High, Orimiston Venture Academy and Lynn Grove High.
Rest centres and evacuation centres (likely to be short stay venues) details include at Wells - Alderman Peal High School
Morston: evacuation centre – Morston Village Hall; rest centre – Holt Community Hub
Blakeney: evacuation Centre – Blakeney Village Hall; rest centre – Holt Community Hub
Cley: evacuation centre – Cley Village Hall; rest centre – Holt Community Hub
Salthouse: evacuation Centre – British Columbia Hall; rest centre – Holt Community Hub
Walcott: evacuation centre – Lighthouse Public House; rest centre – Stalham High School.
In the Great Yarmouth area alone thousands of people are being evacuated in response to a number of severe flood warnings across the county.
About 9,000 properties are being visited by police officers and staff over the next few hours to advise on plans for imminent evacuation.
Sandbag locations for the Yarmouth area include Beach Coach Station, Pasteur Road car park (opposite Toops Tiles), Southgates Road, Quay Road, Gorleston and the Runham Road junction.
In Wells, the site manager at Pinewood Caravan Park has made the decision to evacuate 22 touring vans. Sixty-one properties were due to be evacuated at 4pm in the East Quay, The Quay and Freeman Street areas.
The flood barrier at Wells was due to be closed at 5pm alongside the following roads: Polka Road, Stanley Road and Freeman Street.
Wells harbour master Bob Smith said the weather is “getting worse by the hour” but said he is waiting to see what happens and the weather progresses and will get a better view when the tide comes in.
In Blakeney 30 properties are to be evacuated. The Blakeney Hotel has 66 people staying, they will be closing the flood door.
In Salthouse some 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.
Shepherd’s Port area of Snettisham, coastal areas of Heacham and South Hunstanton have received evacuation notices. Approximately 500 homes properties in that area are affected and residents are being asked to leave for their own safety.
Roads due to be closed in the Hunstanton area include South Beach Road in Hunstanton (from the top of the road at Oasis Way roundabout), Jubliee Road (near North Beach and the flood defence) and South Beach (near the flood defences) in Heacham and Beach Road in Snettisham. Norfolk police are issuing the following advice to people:
• Take any medication and valuables you may need.
• Do not wade through any flood water, even if it is still. Drain covers can shift during flooding and pose a danger to anyone wading through the area.
• Stay away from flooding areas, particularly riversides and seaside areas.
• Road closures will be in place for public safety and pedestrians are also strongly advised to avoid these areas.
Meanwhile the Highways Agency is advising road users to be cautious and avoid parts of the A47 and A12, and all routine roadworks planned for today and tomorrow on the road network have been cancelled and will be rescheduled once normal weather conditions have returned.
The agency is working with its contractors to make extra resources available along the parts of the network that are at risk, including the A47 between Acle and Great Yarmouth and the A12 between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
Additional staff are being deployed to help keep trunk roads in these areas clear of debris following the high wind gusts of this morning and to ensure any incidents are cleared rapidly.
Breydon Bridge on the A12 between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft is likely to be closed this afternoon.
• Live traffic information updates are available on the Highways Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic and the latest weather forecasts can be found at www.metoffice.gov.uk
• People are being urged to be on the alert for any further warnings from the Environment Agency. People in affected locations should call the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for further information.
For further information follow @norfolkpolice #floodaware #norfolk on Twitter or visit the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk