“Everyone has been so nice; from the second we walked through the door.”

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Susan Hyde, 78, had no plans to leave her house in Hamilton Way, Great Yarmouth, when she woke up yesterday morning. But by 5.30pm, not long after dinner, a police officer knocked on the door and advised her it might be safer to move to one of the rest centres operating across the Yarmouth borough.

“I’m not sure how much sleep I’ll get, but we’re safe here,” said Mrs Hyde, who spent last night at the emergency evacuation centre set up inside Caister High School with friends, family and neighbours.

The rest centre was manned by teams of 10 – most of them staff from the school, who stayed up to ensure everyone arriving through the school gates had somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat and somewhere to get a hot cup of tea.

Spread around the school canteen were trays of homemade cakes, while the sports hall was filled with put-up beds and a classroom was set aside for evacuees who brought their pets.

Paul Bradley, 44, of Beach Road in Caister – where the rising sea claimed the seafront café – arrived at the rest centre with his daughters, Paige, 12, and Gracie, 10.

“It’s just not worth taking the risk, especially when you’ve got children,” he said.

“I left work about 2pm and came straight home. We had the police come round and they said if we evacuated back in 2008 it would be a good idea if we evacuate this time, so we moved the electronics and the valuables upstairs and came straight here.”

Deputy head of Caister High, Ann Bridges, was co-ordinating the rest centre, making sure evacuees were comfortable whether they arrived at 4pm carrying a cat or at 10pm as the high tides hit, worn out and
worried about the homes they had left behind.

“We’ve got 60 beds in total, and two teams of staff who will work in shifts,” said Mrs Bridges.

“The staff have been absolutely fantastic and I think that has helped keep people in relatively high spirits.”

Half a dozen emergency hubs were established around Yarmouth with families decamping to Flegg High School, Martham Primary School, Cliff Park High School, Ormiston Venture Academy, Lynn Grove High School, and later to the Waters Lane village hall in Hemsby and Acle Recreation Centre.

It is not known how many people spent the night at the centres but only Cliff Park was at full capacity by midnight.

Sam Thomson, who was co-ordinating the rest centre at Ormiston Venture Academy in Gorleston, said: “It’s quite surreal.

“We have a lecture theatre ready to show movies and we have a games room so if we have any children come with their parents we have the capacity to create some fun.”

Special provisions had been made at Cliff Park High School for people with disabilities.

How the region prepared – page 10

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