Flood alert: anger over sirens

Anger in mounting in a small north Norfolk seaside village after flood evacuation sirens failed to sound despite requests from wardens for them to be turned on.

Anger in mounting in a small north Norfolk seaside village after flood evacuation sirens failed to sound despite requests from wardens for them to be turned on.

Villagers in Walcott, near Bacton, say their lives could have been put at risk because of inadequate warnings of Friday morning's emergency, which saw the tidal surge flood numerous homes.

North Norfolk MP, Norman Lamb said it exposed “serious flaws in the warning system”.

Catherine Burbage, from the Environment Agency, said: “The situation was that the area was on flood watch, the lowest flood warning. It means that there is a risk of flooding to low lying areas and minor roads. The warning was appropriate for the circumstances.”

But Tony Andrews, chief flood warden in Walcott, said: “We could see the water running down the road at 3.30am and I wanted to get people out but the problem is that without the sirens some people will not move. If people hear the sirens they know they have to get out.”

Four families from Walcott spent last night in temporary accommodation as their homes were made safe.

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As villagers returned from the evacuation centre yesterday afternoon many were greeted by flooded homes, a layer on mud on the street and debris strewn over gardens and paths.

As fire crews worked to pump out homes and clear water from roads shock turned to anger. Though some got telephone and text warnings many do not feel it was enough.

Seber Hawkins, who lives on Poplar Drive and whose garage was flooded, said: “The first we knew was when we had to get out this morning and the water was ankle high. We cannot understand why the sirens did not got off.”

Jill Dewbury, who also lives on Poplar Drive and whose conservatory was damaged, said: “They left us vulnerable and people are livid.”

Mr Lamb said: “This is an extraordinary situation. Even if the alarms do cause concern it is better to get people out.

“Floods like this can happen incredibly quickly and there is no doubt people were at risk.”

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