Rest centres are to provide shelter and support to people forced to evacuate their homes on the Suffolk coastline today amid forecasts for the worst storm for nearly 60 years.

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About 1,000 homes and businesses in north Suffolk are being encouraged to evacuate as a tidal surge travels down the county this evening.

Operation Fulstone has been launched by the multi-agency Suffolk Resilience Forum in a bid to tackle the 25 severe flood warnings – the most serious level – issued by the Environment Agency expected to hit the region.

A Suffolk Resilience Forum spokesman said: “Where possible, people living in the 14 severe flood risk areas...should make arrangements to stay with friends or family outside the affected areas.”

Official ‘rest centres’ have also been set up in Waveney and Suffolk Coastal, providing food and drink and overnight accommodation if required.

They will be established at:

Waterlane Leisure Centre, Water Lane, Lowestoft.

Carlton Colville Community Centre, Hall Road, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft.

Southwold Sports Pavillion, The Common, Southwold.

Leiston Leisure Centre, Red House Lane, Leiston.

Brackenbury Leisure Centre, High Road East, Felixstowe.

Rest centres will be open from 4pm and people who need this facility are encouraged to make their way to their nearest centre as soon as possible.

Fears are mounting the storm could be the worst in a generation, eclipsing the one experienced in 2007.

It comes as forecasters predict gusts of 50mph today.

Police officers are visiting the affected properties in communities covered by the warnings, requesting that residents evacuate and giving details of their nearest rest centre.

The following advice is offered for those preparing for evacuation:

Stay calm and do not panic.

Police officers and / or other officials will try to visit all properties at risk to advise on the requirement to evacuate.

If road conditions permit, move vehicles to unaffected areas for example higher ground and ask friends / family if you can share their parking facilities.

You will hear about your evacuation point for transport and the location of the reception centre either verbally or by a leaflet.

Try to check that any elderly / vulnerable family members or neighbours know about the evacuation.

Try to inform family members / friends as to where you are evacuating.

Listen to the advice of the authorities and follow any instructions to leave the property.

Take special foods and medicines;

Switch off gas and electricity.

If possible, move electrical equipment and furniture upstairs.

Any furniture that you cannot move upstairs, try to raise well off the floor.

Do not forget to lock all doors and windows.

Block doorways and air bricks – sandbags are not available via local authorities

Avoid walking and driving through floodwater, there could be hidden hazards.

David Skevington, assistant chief constable at Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We are taking this matter extremely seriously and would urge people in the areas likely to be affected to do the same.

“Rest centres have been established in the county and people in those areas are encourage to find alternative accommodation outside of the affected areas or make their way to the nearest rest centre.

“We continue to work with agencies both locally, regionally and nationally to make sure we are in the best possible position to safeguard Suffolk people.

“We anticipate a number of roads will be closed later today due to flooding. I would urge people to monitoring the local media and the environment agency website to ensure they keep up to date with any developments.”

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