East Anglia braces itself for floods
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes amid fears of severe flooding along East Anglia's coast.The region is at its highest level of flood alert and has seen the biggest evacuation of residents since the destruction of 1953.
Thousands of people along East Anglia's coastline were bracing themselves this morning amid fears of the worst flooding in more than 50 years.
The region is at its highest level of flood alert and has seen the biggest evacuation of residents since the destruction of 1953 with thousands of people urged to seek refuge with friends or at special centres which have been set up.
Yarmouth and Lowestoft are expected to be the worst hit with high tide at about 7.30am at the former.
At 7.35am, the water had already seeped through the Haven Bridge and Southtown Road was flooded but it appeared to be stable.
Onlookers had gathered on the bridge to watch the progress of the flood and some people were even trying to drive across the bridge to get to work, despite all roads out of the town being closed to traffic, including most recently, the A143.
David Smith, landlord of the Dukes Head in Southtown, had the pub open all night and said he had been providing teas and coffees for people who wanted to sit it out in company.
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By 6.15am his cellars were already starting to fill up.
Father of three Paul Emblem, of Stafford Road, Southtown, said his home had only just recovered from the last floods and he was fearful that if the water breached again it would take many months to repair.
Jeff Exton had to be evacuated from his caravan in Tyrells Road at about 5.30am.
“I have been here for 20 years and I have never seen anything like it. Basically we had to rush out with the clothes on our backs,” he said.
Gordon Long, 82, of Elsie Road, Cobholm, said he thought the water level was similar to that of the 1953 floods.
“Some of my neighbours have been evacuated but I'm not going because I have no where to go,” he said.
Mr Long, who lost his wife in July, said he lived in Cobholm in 1953 when 2ft of water flooded the house.
Anne Edwards, editor of the Yarmouth Mercury, said: “I live in Southtown and the police have been knocking on peoples doors advising them to go and stay with friends.
“We are moving upstairs and have been packing most of the night. We have milk and soup and a supply of water in case we are trapped.
“I think a lot of people are incredulous and just wondering how bad it is going to get.”
In Lowestoft at 7.15am, 90 minutes before the peak of the high tide, the level of Lake Lothing under the Bascule Bridge swelled towards the top of the quay wall.
At Oulton Broad concerned property owners requested more sand bags as rising water flowing from the Great Yarmouth direction began to lap the edge of Nicholas Everitt Park.
Earlier, one of the broad's small lock gates was breached but witnesses said the water level appeared to have stabilised.
Train services between Norwich and Lowestoft have been suspended following flooding of the track in the Somerleyton area.
At 8am the police were warning members of the public to stay away from the River Yare amid fears the surge may affect inland areas.
Residents were not yet being formally advised to evacuate but many people were choosing to do so.
Norfolk County Council spokesman Steve Riley said: “Our concern now is what happens once the surge subsides. Clearly there is a lot of water which is not going to clear very quickly and may still cause problems.”
Parts of the village of Walcott had been evacuated with rest centres set up at Bacton First School and the Lighthouse Inn.
The road between Bacton and Walcott flooded with a caravan and a boat where cars would usually drive.
Caroline Blower, landlady of the Poacher's Pocket, said she had woken up to find waves crashing over her picnic tables and the car park flooded.
“We are not that worried. You just have to let it do what it is going to do. I have just had a wooden floor fitted and I am more worried about that than anything,” she said.
About 100 people sought refuge at the inn with tea and sandwiches provided.
Flood warden Christine Woolstone, said: “There are a fair amount of people from the village at the inn and some homes have been flooded.”
Gail Moore, of Poplar Close, said she had tried to take her dog for a walk just about 4.30am but found the road closed.
“We watched the water come up the road for about an hour before it came into the bungalows. We had to be driven to the rest centre in a Landrover,” she said.
High tide at Wells passed at 5.30am with flooding on the quayside car park but the town appeared to have escaped the worst.
Residents were on their doorsteps watching the tide but it appeared only the wooden car park hut, which was shifted from its base, was the only casualty.
In Blakeney the water was lapping against shops at the bottom of the high street shortly after high tide.
At Salthouse the shingle bank was breached but the improved drainage on the marshes did the job and there was no immediate threat to houses.
Surging seas smashed through the front doors of Cromer's new £1m lifeboat museum, which is on the east promenade, setting off the alarms.
The award-winning building recently had sandbags laid along the front as a precaution to prevent winter tides getting inside, where there are valuable artefacts including the H F Bailey lifeboat of legendary coxswain Henry Blogg.
Hunstanton escaped any flooding but the sea was very rough and the lifeboat crew was on standby in case they were needed during the night but was later stood down.