Anger as 4,000 properties in Hunstanton and Ringstead lose water
- Credit: Matthew Usher
More than 4,000 properties were left without water for half a day after a burst water main wiped out the supply.
All of Hunstanton was affected by the shutdown yesterday, which forced a host of businesses to close their doors and others to eke out dwindling stocks.
The drama began at 11am when Anglian Water triggered automated calls to warn that the 21in main, which serves Hunstanton, Heacham and Ringstead, had burst. Taps were still not working at 10pm last night.
Quick-thinking engineers from the water company 're-zoned' the pipes in the area to divert water from other mains to some homes and businesses, which meant Heacham was less affected by the problem.
Homes near to the broken pipe – in a field next to the King's Lynn Road and Redgate Hill roundabout, on the A149 at Hunstanton – were also able to get some water supply, albeit at a lower pressure, but the town centre was almost entirely cut off.
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The problems caused many businesses to lose nearly a full day's trade and meant residents were unable to use water for the whole evening.
Supermarkets quickly ran out of bottled water, forcing residents to drive to Heacham for supplies, and council environmental health teams ordered restaurants without an adequate water supply to close.
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Cafes, pubs and restaurants were among the businesses worst affected, with Wells Deli and Fisher's Fish and Chips, and the Greevdale among those businesses which closed their doors along with Tamworth Tea Rooms, Cafe Blah Blah and Copper Kettle in the High Street.
Others soldiered on and pulled out all the stops to stay open, even if they were forced to offer a limited service or close their toilet facilities to members of the public.
Janine McCullen, manager at the Wash and Tope Hotel, in Le Strange Terrace, said: 'It has been a complete and utter nightmare, especially for the length of time it has been off.
'It has had a major effect on us being a hotel and a pub. We've had to close the kitchem and that is half our trade.'
She added that they were not turning guests away last night but that it was causing difficulty for visitors, as they were unable to have a shower or use toilet facilities.
Rachel Briscoe, manager of The Marine Hotel, in St Edmund's Terrace, said: 'It's been pretty chaotic. We had a busier lunchtime than usual because we kept open.
'As soon as we heard there was a problem, we had glasses, pots and pans everywhere trying to gather as much water as we could. We had enough to do the washing up and give the chefs pans of water so they could wash their hands. They managed to carry on cooking.
'Customers were getting a little bit angry because we had to shut the toilets but we had no choice due to hygiene.'
Alan Clark, manager at the Waterside Bar, in Beach Terrace, said: 'A lot of places shut down but we stayed open. It was a struggle but we kept going. The little cafes were the ones which were really suffering.'
Like The Marine Hotel, staff at the Waterside filled up buckets with water when they realised there was a problem. However their water supplies began to run out at around 5pm.
Some places, such as the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, were able to get by on low pressure until mid-afternoon but were eventually left without any supply.
Nigel Groasdale, manager at the Sea Life Centre, said: 'It wasn't until mid-afternoon that there was a complete drop-off in pressure.
'At that point, we then started advising customers in the building that there were no hand washing facilities and that we weren't able to offer drinks in the restaurants.'
A spokesman for Anglian Water said the relatively isolated location of the breakage meant that working on the repair was 'relatively straightforward' and that they did not need to inconvenience any road users.
Automated messages originally indicated that the damage would be mended by 3.30pm but 'difficulties experienced during the repair' meant it was first delayed by two-and-a-half hours and then a further three hours, until 9pm.
However despite that notice, many residents and businesses said they were still without water at 10pm.
'We apologise for the inconvenience caused by this interruption to your service,' a spokesman said, adding that the firm did not know what had caused the pipe to break.