Thursday, June 5, 2014
Six months ago today communities along the north Norfolk coast were bracing themselves for one of the highest tides since 1953. Reporter SOPHIE WYLLIE looks at how these communities from Sheringham to Walcott have fought back.
From the famous Cromer Pier and popular beach huts to promenade businesses and dozens of homes – nothing escaped the powerful December 5 tidal surge.
But six months on the north Norfolk coastline from Sheringham to Walcott, which relies on tourism, is battling on.
Some of the attractions have managed to bounce back for the main holiday season but some remain shut while extensive work is carried out.
Several homeowners also remain in temporary accommodation, although some are returning to their properties.
But despite prominent repair work, questions remain over how this part of coastline can be defended in the future.
North Norfolk District Council originally estimated the storm surge clear-up costs and damage to its property at about £3m, which has been cut to about £525,000.
The reduction is due to insurance payouts, a £765,000 grant from the Environment Agency (EA), £45,000 from the government’s Bellwin fund, and £143,616 from the government’s Severe Weather Recovery Scheme.
The council is hoping to receive a further £276,000 from the EA.
Below is a list of work which has taken place:
■ Mundesley café – the café above the public conveniences on Mundesley Promenade has reopened.
■ Mundesley public toilets – works to the toilets should start on June 11 for five-to-six weeks.
■ Cromer Pier – the structural repairs to the areas underneath the office area have been completed.
■ Sheringham west prom café – the council is looking for the most appropriate solution for the drainage problem which came to light after the storm. Work was due to start this week to clear out the café of the general debris.
■ Cromer/Sheringham/Mundesley promenade water standpipes – these provided fresh water to all beach users but were all destroyed in the surge. Rebuilding of these small brick units and replacing the water was due to start this week and is expected to take two-to-three weeks.
■ Rocket House building in Cromer – the main boat doors which buckled were due to be replaced this week. The lift will need further repairs.
Popular food and drink stalls on Cromer promenade which were damaged by the storm but are now back in business are Starvin’ Marvin’s and Beach Treats.
Starvin’ Marvin’s owner Mark Nightingale said: “Three waves took away the business. It was complete devastation on the promenade. I couldn’t believe it.”
He had to buy a new unit to run the business from.
Mr Nightingale, from Norwich, said: “When the council finishes the repair work, Cromer will look lovely.”
One seaside business that will not be opening this summer is Dunes Arcade, next to Cromer funfair.
All 60 machines, popular with families, were destroyed and only the shell of the building remains. About £800,000 worth of damage was caused.
Work has started on the “complete facelift” of the arcade, owned by Fakenham-based Triangle Amusements.
However it cannot open until next Easter because of repairs to the Cromer sea defences happening between October and March.
Wooden planks were ripped up and the box office, shop and restaurant at the front of the Grade II listed Cromer Pier were ruined.
But six months on general manager of the pier, Rebecca Wass, said: “It is nice to see the theatre coming back alive again. There is quite a buzz. Over the last six months we have had a lot of help from the community.
“There have been some times that have been quite tense but now we have got a building schedule in place and we aim to be fully open by the end of summer.”
She said the night the storm hit felt like a long time ago.
Despite the damage the Cromer Pier Christmas show returned to the Pavilion Theatre on December 12.
Since then the holes have been repaired with new planks and plans to repair works in the box office, shop and cafe areas are due to start in the next month. A temporary box
office has been set up at the front of the pier and in the theatre bar.
North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “It has been a huge community effort to get things up and running. People responded amazingly well. There has been a determination not to let themselves be beaten by the floods but stand up and fight. We have recovered well but are mindful we need to plan for the future.”
Feasibility studies will be carried out along parts of the coast, including at Walcott and Ostend, to work out how best to defend communities.
Mr FitzPatrick added there should be one approach in relation to managing the coast across East Anglia.
Happisburgh campaigner Malcolm Kerby said: “We need a clearly- defined adaptation policy that affects everybody.”