Flood alert: north Norfolk clears up

Smashed beach huts, splintered pier planks, flooded marshes and battered sea defences were the battle scars left on North Norfolk's shoreline after the storm surge.

Smashed beach huts, splintered pier planks, flooded marshes and battered sea defences were the battle scars left on North Norfolk's shoreline after the storm surge.

At Cromer the impact of sledgehammer seas was instantly obvious after happy holiday huts were reduced to firewood, planks and inspection hatches were ripped off the pier decking and the doors at a new £1m lifeboat museum were bludgeoned open.

But at other vulnerable spots like the nature reserves at Salthouse and Cley it may be days before the full damage is known.

There white foaming waves tumbled over the top of shingle banks, left to naturally lower under “managed retreat” coastal defence policy, and spilled on to marshes which are a Mecca for birds and the enthusiasts who study them.

Experts at Norfolk Wildlife Trust are now waiting for the waters to disperse to assess the full damage to reserves, where boardwalks were under 3ft of water, which could take until the weekend.

They are shut to the public, said spokeswoman Lynette Dear, and any damage to the walkways, hides and other buildings on beach car parks would not be known until the tide and storm waters dropped.

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A “flying flock” of sheep marooned on the Cley Eye island because there was time to evacuate them had been checked and were safe and well.

Salthouse parish council chairman Ivan Large said: “This is going to be a regular occurrence now. The villagers seem to be ready for it, but are the people in holiday cottages?”

Coastal engineer Brian Farrow, whose tour of the coast began at 4am, said it was the biggest sea he had witnessed in 27 years with North Norfolk District Council.

“We got off lightly considering the amount of water, because the wind was coming from the west rather than straight on from the north,” he added.

Early damage reports included 10m of bay lost at Happisburgh, three-quarter tonne capping stones pushed off the sea wall at Walcott, damage to flood gates and 12m of sea wall at Mundesley and smashed promenade hand rails in several places. Beach huts at Cromer and Overstrand were damaged or destroyed.

Cromer and Sheringham promenades are likely to be shut all weekend while council workers clear debris.

Cromer Pier will be shut for several days while repairs are carried out to smashed decking, and broken inspection hatches.

A Remembrance concert, due to feature a Salvation Army band on Saturday night, was switched to Sheringham parish church, because of damage to the bar and toilet floors in the Pavilion, but managers Openwide International hope to get it open well before the Christmas show begins set building in 10 days time.

The RNLI lifeboat museum is also closed after waves smashed open its main roller door, sending water and sandbags into the attraction.

Manager Jacqui Palmer said there was superficial damage to its centrepiece exhibit, the H F Bailey of legendary coxswain Henry Blogg.

The humidity of the building is carefully controlled to preserve the boat, and the long process of slowly drying it out would have to begin again, she added - praising staff and volunteers who rallied around to clear up the mess and move artefacts upstairs to safety.

The existing lifeboat station will need repairs to damaged doors installed just weeks ago as it gears up to housing a new type of boat.

At Wells the sea covered the quayside car park at the 5.30am high tide, its power moving the attendant's shed 50m towards the road, while water lapped against the shops at the bottom of Blakeney High Street.

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