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Villagers take refuge in pub as storm surge batters Walcott

PUBLISHED: 23:07 13 January 2017 | UPDATED: 23:47 13 January 2017

Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house. Flooding in the car park of the Poachers Pocket.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house. Flooding in the car park of the Poachers Pocket. Photo by Simon Finlay

Simon Finlay

Up to 70 villagers took refuge in a pub tonight as the storm surge pounded the Norfolk coast.

Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house.
Photo by Simon Finlay Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house. Photo by Simon Finlay

The Lighthouse Inn at Walcott provided a safe haven for residents evacuated from their flood threatened homes.

The main Coast Road remained closed through the village after waves breached the sea defences.

No houses are believed to have been flooded, but Walcott was thrown into darkness by a powercut as a result of the severe weather conditions.

Residents were desperately hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2013 tidal surge which flooded scores of homes.

Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house. Dorothy and Brian Dickenson.
Photo by Simon Finlay Walcott faces the high tides, strong winds and tidal surge as the sea closes the main road and local residents take shelter in The Lighthouse Inn public house. Dorothy and Brian Dickenson. Photo by Simon Finlay

Dave Fowler and wife Lorraine were among evacuees spending the evening at the Lighthouse Inn, which is a designated rest centre.

Mr Fowler, 67, said: “Our house was flooded in the 2013 storm surge and we had to spend four months at a caravan park, but hopefully everything will be alright tonight. Since the last flood more drains have been installed in the sea wall, which should help the situation.”

Dorothy and Brian Dickenson were hoping to be given the all-clear to return to their house on The Crescent.

Mrs Dickenson, 83, said: “We had to leave our house for nine months after it was flooded, so this is a bit nerve wracking. Last time we were rescued by a dingy, but were given early notice tonight. My husband recently suffered a heart attack so we are really hoping to go back home tonight.”

Karen Crabb had arrived at a holiday cottage in the village with husband Rodney and daughter Amy just hours before the storm surge struck.

Mrs Crabb, from Bury St Edmunds, said: “We were watching the tide getting higher out of the window and things seemed to be getting a bit exciting. Then the Coastguard walked past the window and told us it might be advisable to leave. We were aware of the tidal surge, but decided to take a risk.

“The guy who owns our cottage has said we can stay with him if it gets flooded which is very kind of him.”

Lighthouse Inn landlord Steve Bullimore has had to provide a rest centre for villagers 15 times in the 28 years running the pub.

“There is great deal of community spirit in the village with everyone helping each other and occasions like this show how important the local pub is,” he said.

“Not as many people are here as 2013 because there was more notice so they have been able to make alternative arrangements.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “Our emergency contingency team and coastal management teams have been working round the clock and have been out on the ground at Blakeney, Salthouse, Cley, Wells and Walcott working with community flood wardens to help warn and inform people.

“Our teams have gone out to close down the pier and Promenade at Cromer, Sheringham Promenade, Mundesley and Overstrand seafront.

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said the blackout had hit 442 homes and been caused by damage to an underground cable. It was hoped electricity could be restored to the village by 11pm.

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