Evacuated residents arrive at Lowestoft rest centres ahead of expected floods
- Credit: Archant � 2011
Residents evacuated from their homes ahead of expected floods have started arrived at rest centres set up in a coastal town.
The Lowestoft seafront and the docks are forecast to get severe flooding from around 9.30pm tonight (Friday, January 13), along with Oulton Broad and Mutford Lock and the north bank of Lake Lothing.
Police officers have been visiting businesses and homes in the areas most affected to warn them to evacuate in case the worst happens.
Rest centres were opened at Carlton Colville Community Centre and the Waterlane Leisure Centre from 2pm for those who need a place to stay.
Emma Cook, joint rest centre manager at Waterlane, said: 'We're ready to see people if they need somewhere to go.'
Volunteers said at this stage they were uncertain how many people would arrive, as it depends on how the weather develops over the coming hours.
'We're at the mercy of the storm and which houses are affected,' said Clare Ouaddane, crisis support volunteer for the British Red Cross.
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She also said that while 'we don't want to put people off coming, we want to focus on the people who are most vulnerable'.
She urged people to stay with friends and family where possible to allow more room for those who may not have anywhere else to go.
At the moment 24 camp beds have arrived at Waterlane for people to sleep on during the night, although Red Cross volunteers stressed more could be called for depending on demand.
They are due to be set up in the sports hall later this evening, with refreshments available in the café area during the evening.
The Red Cross will comfort people where necessary, provide blankets and help them make contact with relatives.
Elizabeth Vale, 62, from Oulton, arrived at Waterlane shortly after 2pm after hearing about the flood warnings.
'It's frightening,' she said.
'I have multiple disabilities and there's no way I can move quick enough to get out of the way, because I have mobility problems.
'I thought I might as well get out now, before it's too late.
'I'm a bit worried about what's going to happen to my property but it's life and limb that you've got to put first.
'The people at the rest centre have been fantastic – they're always checking to see if I'm all right and they seem to have got everything under control.
'They've been absolutely brilliant, I don't think there's anything more they can do.'
Superintendent Kerry Cutler, of Suffolk Constabulary said: 'We are taking this matter extremely seriously and would urge people in the areas likely to be affected to do the same.
'Rest centres have been established in the county and people in those areas are encouraged to find alternative accommodation outside of the affected areas or to make their way to the nearest rest centre well in advance of the high tide times. Leaflets have been distributed overnight.
'We would continue to ask that you monitor local media and the Environment Agency website to ensure you keep up to date with any developments
'We would urge anyone who may be currently considering going to the coast to watch the tidal surge, not to do this. This would be incredibly dangerous not only for those people but also as it may cause disruption and delay for emergency response teams and vehicles who are supporting local communities in these areas.'