March 12 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Communities on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast are keeping a watching brief tonight – but a repeat of last night’s destruction is not expected.
Thousands of people are settling back into their homes and surveying the devastation wrought by the floods, after Environment Agency warnings were downgraded tonight.
But the weather claimed its first life, as a Lowestoft lorry driver was named the victim of a crash in high winds in Scotland on Thursday morning. Robert Dellow, 54, was killed when his HGV overturned in 140mph winds at Bathgate, in West Lothian, near Edinburgh. He was believed to have worked for Harleston-based Neil Bomford Haulage.
Tides on the coast tonight, though higher than usual, are expected to be lower than last night’s, and calm conditions have been reported in Wells, King’s Lynn and north Norfolk.
A spokesman for the coastguard said at 12.15am that their operations had been “routine”, and the Environment Agency has withdrawn the seven remaining severe flood warnings – relating to areas around the Wash and Lincolnshire – and downgraded them to flood warnings. That means residents should prepare for flooding but they are not expected to be life-threatening.
In Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, emergency services are keeping a watching brief and the seven rescue centres operating across the borough on Thursday night have been closed.
In Hemsby, where three homes were claimed by the sea and four others badly damaged, residents were given advice on the current coastal erosion earlier today and at least four people decided to move to temporary accommodation elsewhere in Hemsby until further notice.
Mel Bowen, manager of The Captain’s Table pub on Freeman Street in Wells, said: “It’s been okay here tonight and pretty calm overall. We were expecting the flood barriers to come out again but it’s been pretty calm and nothing like last night.”
In Beccles, residents on the Quay have been protecting their homes with sandbags in anticipation of the high tide at 3.20am.
Authorities have warned that there is still a potential for normal winter flooding to affect certain areas and in particular the Broads river system.
Some flood defences are described as “battered and bruised”, which are in need of repair.
John Ellis, Norfolk County Council’s chairman of the Norfolk Resilience Forum Programme Board, said: “Thankfully, the second tidal surge this morning was not as severe as initially anticipated which means that people can now begin to return home to their properties.
“There may still be some hazards caused by flooding and we would remind people to continue to listen to the advice of the emergency services and heed the ongoing public health information to ensure that they stay safe.
“Support will be available for more vulnerable residents to ensure that they can return home safely. Plans are also in place to support anyone who is unable to return home due to the flood or storm damage.”
The number of severe flood warnings in East Anglia have dropped from 27 first thing this morning to seven, all centred on the Lincolnshire coast.
Deputy chief constable Charlie Hall, who is leading the multi-agency response said: “This has been a serious incident which could have been far worse had it not been for the support and cooperation of the public and all the agencies working to keep people safe.
“In places, water levels were higher than those experienced in the flooding of 1953, when many people lost their lives. Thankfully that has not been the case on this occasion, a combination of improved defences in place and the concerted efforts of the community, the emergency services and the agencies that have worked to support the evacuation and keep people informed.
“The widespread evacuation was based on the high risk of severe flooding and was essential in ensuring the public’s safety. A night time rescue operation would have placed both the public and emergency services at far greater risk.”
Norfolk Fire and Rescue service attended 116 incidents including nine flood rescues last night.
Twenty-three schools and colleges were closed as a result of localised flooding or the risk of further flooding, Caister Recycling Centre was closed, and highways workers have assisted with 21 fallen trees and 11 road closures.
More than 600 people stayed in rest centres across Norfolk last night after being evacuated from their home and 10,000 properties were visited with residents advised to evacuate.
Several Hemsby beach chalets collapsed while in South Yarmouth, flood water breached several terraced houses, despite sandbags being in place.
The predicted high tides for tonight were: 8.44pm at King’s Lynn, 8.36pm at Cromer, 8.52pm at Wells, 10.31pm in Great Yarmouth and 3.20am in Beccles.
Local authorities have stressed that the danger has not yet passed and
Local authorities are stressing that this event is not over yet and there is a risk of further flooding, with particular concern in the Hunstanton area where some of the shingle bank has been swept away.
Speaking from Caister High School rest centre David Ashworth, area manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue said: “Things seems to have calmed down along the coast although there has been some damage to properties, such as the old lifeboat shed and homes in Hemsby, I don’t think that has been as bad as predicted. But there certainly have been houses affected.”
The Runton National Coastwatch station has also been evacuated after the cliff in front of the lookout station collapsed.
It was a busy night for emergency services with firefighters being called to flooding incidents in King’s Lynn, Haddiscoe, Hunstanton, Blakeney, Salthouse, Bacton, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
Wells boathouse, which is the base for the town’s two lifeboats, was itself victim to one of the biggest tides in living memory.
The weight of the water smashed the door of the inshore lifeboat shed and surged through the main boathouse where the all-weather lifeboat is housed. At one stage it rocked the lifeboat which was strapped to its launching carriage.
Then when the tide receded it left behind in the boathouse around twenty tons of shingle and gravel. Chris Hardy, lifeboat operations manager, 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.”
As it was, one corner of the boathouse has its outer cladding ripped off and interior wooden panelling was damaged.
A spokesman for UK Power Networks said the electricity network in the East of England remained undamaged by flood waters overnight and there are currently no widespread interruptions to customers’ electricity supplies.
She added that emergency plans were in place with additional staff covering engineer, technical and call centre roles. Anyone with problems with their power supply are urged to call 0800 783 8838.
Video update: Tides were higher in some parts of Norfolk than the 1953 floods Video and photo gallery update: North Norfolk - Cromer seafront and pier damage Norfolk and Suffolk schools closed because of flooding