Flood-hit Walcott and Bacton communities looking forward to the future

Walcott and Bacton residents rebuilding their lives after the December floods. Keswick Hotel owner Margaret Moore.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Walcott and Bacton residents rebuilding their lives after the December floods. Keswick Hotel owner Margaret Moore. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Monday, April 28, 2014
7:00 AM

Nearly five months ago Walcott and Bacton was battered by the powerful December 5 storm surge. Reporter Sophie Wyllie spoke to businesses and residents to find out how the community has fought back and is feeling positive ahead of the summer.

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Walcott and Bacton residents rebuilding their lives after the December floods. Sheila Mason, secretary of Walcott village hall in the newly refurbished hall.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYWalcott and Bacton residents rebuilding their lives after the December floods. Sheila Mason, secretary of Walcott village hall in the newly refurbished hall. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Following the tidal surge many people were shocked by the devastating pictures of caravans strewn across the road and walls, windows and doors of homes destroyed in the north Norfolk coastal community.

But despite signs of the disaster remaining and several homeowners continuing to live in temporary accommodation, people are hopeful repair works to properties will be complete by autumn this year.

Pauline Porter, North Norfolk District Council community resilience co-ordinator for Walcott and Bacton, said: “Things might not be 100pc but the tourism areas are working. The businesses are up and running and we are getting there.”

Mrs Porter, 63, whose Helena Road property was damaged, added: “Everyone is talking to each other more.”

Graham French, owner of the Kingfisher Cafe in Walcott, said it was business as usual.

“We had a busy Easter and are looking forward to a busy spring half term holiday and Whitsun.”

About £20,000 of electrical equipment had to be replaced and windows and doors were damaged but the business reopened two weeks after the flood.

“It was almost an honour to be part of the disaster. You hear about wartime spirit and people helping each other out and that is what happened here. It takes a disaster to bring it out.

“It is still a smashing place to live and have a cafe. The flood is very much part of our history. It was something that happened and we are looking forward to the future,” he added.

An important community hub, Walcott Village Hall, has been given a new lease of life following £40,000 of flood damage.

It reopened for community groups on March 2, attracting two new groups.

Sheila Mason, the powerhouse behind the hall, said: “People that lost the most are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

She added the surge boosted community spirit and made people realise they could rely on neighbours in an emergency.

Another building given a “fresh start” was the Keswick Hotel in Bacton, which had its restaurant damaged.

Building work is due to finish at the end of May.

Hotel co-owner Margaret Moore, 49, said: “The community feeling is getting more positive. We can look at the restaurant as a fresh project.”

She added summer bookings were busy.

One bungalow where building work has started is on Helena Road, where Stuart and Janet Richards lived. They are currently in temporary accommodation in Bacton but hope to return to Walcott in June.

Mr Richards, 63 a retired prison service worker, said: “At the moment it seems rather empty as far as locals are concerned. By this summer most people will be back.”

Do you know of a flood-hit community which is moving forward? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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