Flood latest: Coast escapes worst

Yarmouth appeared to have escaped the worst of the flooding this morning despite fears that it could echo that of the devastating 1953 surge.At 8am, the water had seeped through the Haven Bridge and Southtown Road was flooded but it appeared to be stable.

Yarmouth and Lowestoft appeared to have escaped the worst of the flooding this morning despite fears that it could echo that of the devastating 1953 surge.

At 8am, the water had seeped through the Haven Bridge and Southtown Road in Yarmouth was flooded but it appeared to be stable.

Onlookers had gathered on the bridge to watch the progress of the water and some people were even trying to drive across to get to work, despite all roads out of the town being closed to traffic, including most recently, the A143.

Thoughts are now turning inland with police warning members of the public to stay away from the River Yare amid fears the surge may affect the area.

Residents have not yet been formally advised to evacuate but many people are choosing to do so.

Norfolk County Council spokesman Steve Reilly 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.”

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At 10am, the water had breached in Brundall and boat owners were arriving to check all was well.

Billy Webb, from Hethersett, was at Brundall Bay Marina.

“I have been here 15 years and I have rarely seen it this bad,” he said.

Matt Watts, who lives at Brundall train station over looking the river Yare, said: “I've lived here for three years, it's the worst I've ever seen it. We are far enough away to be safe, but I'm sure there are many other people who are worried.”

In Lowestoft at 9am, the sea was higher than usual but defences had not been broken.

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.

Train services between Norwich and Lowestoft have been suspended following flooding of the track in the Somerleyton area.

At Oulton Broad concerned property owners requested more sand bags as rising water flowing from the Yarmouth direction began to lap the edge of Nicholas Everitt Park.

Mutford Lock was breached and water was lapping at some local businesses.

Most of the village of Walcott, near North Walsham, was 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. There was about 3ft of water from the sea up to the village hall.

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,” she said.

The water was still rising in Beccles, with high tide expected at midday. There was some flooding by 8am, and sandbags were being piled up on the wall around the quay.

Four people spent the night in Beccles Public Hall, which had been opened as a rest centre. Two were workers from offshore rigs who had been stood down due to the weather, and the others had come from Broadland Holiday Village in Oulton Broad.

Lisa Grove, housing officer from Waveney District Council, said: “We will stay open as long as we were needed. Local councillors have been coming in overnight to offer help, though we didn't need it. It is fantastic the number of people from Beccles who have been coming in to help.”

Many roads were closed by flooding, including the A12 at Blythburgh, the A1117 at Saltwater Way in Oulton Broad, the A143 at St Olaves, and the A12 between Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Trains were suspended between Norwich and Yarmouth and Norwich and Lowestoft, with flooding on the line at Somerleyton.

Thousands of people in Yarmouth fled to rest centres or went to stay with friends as a precaution.

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.

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.”

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.

Experts at Norfolk Wildlife Trust are waiting for the waters to disperse to assess damage to their reserves along the North Norfolk Coast.

The Cley and Salthouse reserves, where boardwalks under 3ft of water, are shut to visitors, said spokeswoman Lynette Dear.

Any damage to the walkways, hides and other buildings on beach car parks would not be known until the tide and storm waters dropped.

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.

There had also been some damage to the dunes at the Holme reserve.

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