WEST NORFOLK AREA: Photo gallery, video, see how the storm surge left parts of King’s Lynn and Hunstanton flooded
21:32 05 December 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
Flood waters covered King’s Lynn’s quays and the South Promenade in Hunstanton at the height of the storm surge. A woman was rescued
The River Ouse burst its banks and flooded onto South Quay and Purfleet Quay. Police moved crowds back from the defences surrounding the Purfleet, as the level rose almost to the top.
It is not yet clear if any damage has been done to the Custom House, which at one point was surrounded by water, or any of the other historic buildings along the waterfront.
A woman was taken off a large dutch barge, used as a houseboat, in the Nar Loop, by firefighters. The vessel usually rests on the mud, but had began to move on its moorings as the silted former course of the River Nar began to flood.
Parts of the Ferry Street car park were flooded with some cars needing to be towed away.
Boats could be seen floating above the river banks at Boal Quay.
Samantha Jay, 30, who lives in Purfleet Place opposite the Custom house was watching the water levels rise.
She said: “I just came out to do a bit of shopping and I didn’t expect this.
“I live on the top floor so I’m going to be safe but I do know a lady on who lives on the ground floor and she is a bit concerned.
“We’ve been warned that we should take precautions but I don’t think we are going to be evacuated.
“I’ve lived here for a while and seen the water come up high but I’ve never seen it to this extent. I’m now just going to wait and see what happens.”
In Hunstanton, a crowd gathered outside the Waterside bar as the tides rose on to the prom shortly before 7pm.
Parts of the South Promenade car park were flooded and the seating area under the pier arcade was under water.
The Environment Agency had earlier said it was expecting tonight’s high tide to flood low lying areas of Lynn and parts of the coast between Snettisham and Hunstanton.
Flood gates on South Quay were closed this afternoon to protect riverside properties from an expected 1.5m tidal surge.
West Norfolk council and the Environment Agency issued precautionary evacuation notices to around 400 properties on the coast between Snettisham and Hunstanton before this evening’s high tide.
Police said residents were being asked to leave for their own safety. A rest centre was set up at Hunstanton Community Centre, in Avenue Road, for those forced to leave their homes.
By 7pm, just four people had arrived to take shelter. The Turner family from Ludham, near Great Yarmouth, were evacuated from their caravan near the fairground in Hunstanton.
Doreen Turner, 70, her husband Peter, 78 and sons Jamie, 30 and Perry, 25, were given tea and sandwiches by volunteers.
“I was really frightened, the caravan was rocking and it was really windy,” said Mrs Turner. “When it’s like this, it’s frightening, but it’s normally better in the winter because there aren’t as many people.”
Centre manager Tony Howell said: “We’ll be open as long as we need to be, we could be looking at going into tomorrow. “It’s a place of shelter to keep everyone safe and warm with plenty of drinks and food if we need to.”
High water was expected around 7.30pm on the coast. The expected 5.8m tide was around 2m higher because of a north-westerly gale and low pressure weather system.
A council spokeswoman said the affected properties were mainly caravans and chalets sited immediately behind the sea defences.
“We think it’s about 400 properties affected, but most of them will be empty, so the number of people affected is a lot less than that, probably less than half,” she said.
The council said that the warning notice would remain in force until 9am on Saturday, as police warned people to expect disruption for 36 hours.
Affected properties are off Beach Road and at Shepherd’s Port, at Snettisham; Heacham North and South beaches; Jubilee Road, Heacham; and South Beach and Seagate roads, at Hunstanton.
Police closed off coastal roads as the tide began to rise this afternoon. Road blocks were in place on Beach Road, at Snettisham, Heacham North Beach and Seagate Road, in Hunstanton.
In King’s Lynn sandbags were laid down at a number of points along the key.
EA workers helped elderly people to secure their properties against the flooding with a few spare sandbags.
EA operations team leader for King’s Lynn Alan Daniels said: “We’ve closed down access to the South Quay since about 2.30pm and have encouraged people to move their vehicles.
“We are expecting a high tide of 5.8m and the quay is 5m high so there will be nearly one metre coming over.”
Bank House Hotel remained open however, to deal with the risk of flooding, its wine supplies have been placed on stilts.
Owner Jeannette Goodrich said: “We have very big cellars, in which we keep the wine, which are a risk for flooding. So we are moving the wine.
“We have been very lucky over the past few years and haven’t had any problems at all.
“We will warn our guests, although they are safely upstairs and if anyone is brave enough to come and eat we will be open.”
Restaurant Marriott’s Warehouse was forced to close following warnings from the borough council and Environment Agency.
Manager Shannon Durrant said: “We didn’t want to close and were planning to stay open.
“But the Environment Agency and the council strong armed us a bit and advised us to close.
“We had a full restaurant booked so we could lose about £2,000.
“Our customers have been very understanding, they know we have tried to do everything to stay open.”
Along the quay retirement complex Three Crowns House has said they are taking measures to protect their residents should there be flooding.
A spokesperson for Peverel Retirement, which owns the facility, said: “We are aware of the proximity of Three Crowns Houses to the river and are liaising with the Environment Agency on a regular basis. Flood defence barriers will be in place during the high tide and will be checked throughout the evening.
“Residents have been fully informed of our preventative measures and advised of action they should take, including staying indoors until the high waters subside. We have a local management team on hand to offer support.”
Contingency plans are being put in place to divert ambulances from the Boston are to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital should Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital be affected by the flooding.
The West Lynn Ferry, which runs from Ferry Lane in King’s Lynn to Ferry Square in West Lynn, will be closed all day.
Owner Gail Kingston said: “We have shut for the day. The Environment Agency will be shutting the flood boards and one is where we drop people off. “If we take people over we won’t be able to bring them back. We will also be moving the boat to moor at the new pontoons. With such a big tide our buoys might not be able to hold it.”
First Capital Connect warned trains could be delayed between Downham Market and Littleport due to high winds. Some trains may be delayed by up to 12 minutes as trains are required to run at a reduced speed.
UK Power Networks said it was aware of power cuts in parts of King’s Lynn and Harpley.
It said: “If there’s a possibility that flood water will affect our equipment our first priority must always be safety.
“We may have to turn off peoples’ electricity supplies but only as a last resort for safety reasons and of course, we would switch the mains supply on again as soon as possible. Your home may be part of an affected area even if not directly flooded.”