The night our region held its breath – hundreds wake up to assess damage; emergency services on standby for morning high tides; evacuation warnings still in place

Floods. Firefighters go house to house to check on residents in Westgate Street, Blakeney.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Floods. Firefighters go house to house to check on residents in Westgate Street, Blakeney. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, December 6, 2013
6:00 AM

It was the night the region held its breath, as the highest tide for decades threatened to surge into communities around our coast.

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Southdown residents sandbag their doorways in preparation for the floods. Rene Thompson, 84, and her daughter Pauline are packed up ready to evacuate their hom e before the floods arrive. Picture: Denise BradleySouthdown residents sandbag their doorways in preparation for the floods. Rene Thompson, 84, and her daughter Pauline are packed up ready to evacuate their hom e before the floods arrive. Picture: Denise Bradley

But this morning many will be breathing a sigh of relief that no deaths or serious injuries were reported, and that evacuation plans swung into place smoothly.

But although the worst fears about last night’s high tide were not realised, hundreds of families and businesses are still left to assess damage to their property when they get the all-clear to return.

The high winds that made last night’s spring tide especially dangerous were predicted to weaken today, but police cautioned that two more very high tides were expected today, and evacuation warnings would remain in place until they had passed.

Yesterday’s drama started when high winds that caused deaths and destruction in Scotland and the north arrived in East Anglia in the early afternoon.

The Light Dragoons build flood defences around the British Telecom building in Yarmouth. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Light Dragoons build flood defences around the British Telecom building in Yarmouth. Picture: Denise Bradley

Roads and rail were the first to bear the brunt, with trees blocking roads and felling power cables, causing severe delays in parts of Norwich and King’s Lynn and closures on many rural roads.

Commuters between Norwich and London suffered as the rail service was blocked between Diss and Norwich, with replacement buses called into action until an agonisingly slow service was finally restored. Passengers were advised not to travel unless their journeys were essential.

Then it was the turn of the sea, with the Environment Agency issuing 44 severe flood warning, including danger to life, in the Anglian region.

By 5.30pm crowds had gathered to watch as rising sea levels along the north Norfolk coast started to flood onto roads and surge into towns and villages. Residents in Wisbech watched as the Nene came within inches of breaching flood defences. The Custom House in King’s Lynn was surrounded by water. Parts of the South Promenade car park in Hunstanton were flooded and the seating area under the pier arcade was under water. Cromer coastguards were called to rescue six people fishing on the pier.

A rest centre has been created at Cliff Park high school for people affected by the flooding.
The elderly settle down at the high school.A rest centre has been created at Cliff Park high school for people affected by the flooding. The elderly settle down at the high school.

More than a dozen schools across coastal Norfolk closed early, either because of the flooding, or because they were needed as evacuation or rest centres for hundreds of people who firefighters, police or Environment Agency officers advised to leave their homes.

Hour by hour, the huge mound of water worked its way around the coast, with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft hit earlier and with greater force than originally predicted. In Hemsby, the lifeboat shed and bungalows fell into the sea. Roads were flooded in Gorleston, and Great Yarmouth College announced it would be closed today. Several coastal communities in Waveney were under water, with a man in Lowestoft rescued when flood waters trapped him in his home.

Last night police said the emergency systems had stood up well to the challenge, but are on standby for further high tides today.

How were you affected? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

1 comment

  • Everytime I pass the homes for elderly people which are alongside the Bure on Caister Road and Lawn avenue I wonder what bright spark thought it a good place to put old people-damp in winter and prone to flooding.These homes should be pulled down, especially the single storey ones and the sites sold for more intensive housing built to be flood proof and the homes for the elderly rebuilt where it is high and dry.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, December 6, 2013

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