Region rallies around flood-hit coastal communities as EDP launches Norfolk and north Suffolk Flood Appeal
PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 December 2013 | UPDATED: 09:09 09 December 2013
Archant Norfolk 2013
First came the shock as surging flood waters swept down our coast. Then the came the reckoning, as householders and businesses started to pick through their properties and assess the damage.
Now, as so often before, comes the rally of support, as the region limbers up to help ravaged coastal communities as they begin the long process of setting straight lives that were upended by the deluge.
As the EDP Norfolk Flood Appeal raised more than £2,200 just hours after its launch yesterday afternoon, more and more stories emerged of the quiet determination of people across the county to extend the hand of help to those in need.
Hemsby caravan park owner Martin Mehmet let some of those who lost everything when the sea destroyed their homes stay in his Florida caravan park.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “The community has pulled together. I think you do what you can.”
Gavin Wright, a tiler from Taverham, vowed to offer his services for free - and is urging other tradesmen to do the same - to help those whose homes were devastated.
He tweeted: “Any Norfolk flood victims need help I’m willing to offer my skills for free, I urge other tradesman to do the same, give a day up to help.”
And fundraisers Nicola Lock and Jo Rennie from Upper Sheringham decided to donate the proceeds of a craft fair they organised at their local village hall yesterday to the EDP appeal.
“So many people have been affected,” Mrs Lock said. “It is just happy memories gone into the sea, so we thought, well, let’s see what we can do to help.”
The need is clear.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson, speaking on a visit to damaged homes in Boston, Lincolnshire, said: “Many people have had their lives turned upside down and are showing great resolve dealing with these exceptional floods.”
Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP, yesterday walked through the ruined streets of Walcott to meet businesses and residents who are starting to piece their community back together.
He praised our campaign and pledged £100 to help kickstart the fundraising.
Speaking inside the home of Jane Knapp, whose beachfront property was wrecked by the storm surge, he said: “My appeal is to anyone just to put themselves in the shoes of these people, to realise how horrific a prospect it is now.
“They need help at the moment and I think if we could all club together we could make some difference for them.”
From west Norfolk to Southwold, calm seas returned and the cleanup effort began in earnest.
Members of Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club cleared debris from their club house. Staff from North Norfolk District Council continued work to make beach fronts in Cromer and Sheringham safe for the public.
In Great Yarmouth, Irene Thompson spent another night in her caravan near Burgh Castle after her home in the town was badly damaged by flood waters.
Flood damage in Haddiscoe and Lowestoft left the train service to Norwich suspended until further notice, while many shops in Bevan Street East in Lowestoft were not expected to open until today.
There was, however, hope for some members of the animal kingdom affected by the storm surge.
Fears about Norfolk’s seal population were partially allayed with the news that many which were washed out to sea on Thursday night may have now washed up or swam back to land.
And in Hunstanton, the Sea Life Sanctuary completed the evacuation of more than 3,000 creatures, some to destinations as far as Weymouth, although about a dozen fish died.
It also emerged that Norfolk’s notoriously-poor mobile phone reception may have hampered the response to the emergency in Wells. The town’s flood action plan coordinators said they had been unable to contact police on their mobiles on the night.
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