LOWESTOFT AND SOUTHWOLD: Dramatic rescue as Lowestoft centre under several feet of water
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
A fire crew from the Lowestoft South station have been called to rescue a man trapped in his home by flood waters.
Firefighters attended the property in London Road South at around 11pm and used a rescue boat and a ladder to evacuate the man from his home.
The rescue came as coastal communities in Waveney were underwater after being hit by what is believed to be the biggest tidal surge in 60 years.
Residents and businesses in low lying areas were advised to evacuate amid warnings that flood waters were expected to hit the district at about 10.45pm.
However, sea levels began to rise well before that time and there was surface water on Lowestoft's road by 8.30pm.
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By 10pm the town was cut in two by the rising tidal waters in Lake Lothing. The Oulton Broad road bridge was closed shortly after 9pm and the Bascule Bridge was shut an hour later
Station Square, Riverside Road and parts of London Road South were under several feet of water by 10pm.
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In south Lowestoft, some residents at the Levington Court sheltered housing complex in London Road South were sent to stay with families and friends as a precaution, and all those living in ground floor flats were advised to evacuate.
Staff placed sandbags around the outside of the building as there was a risk that water might come up through flooded drains.
Lowestoft esplanade, Nicholas Everitt Park and walks around Oulton Broad were closed from the afternoon to prevent people getting caught in the flood water.
Southwold's harbour and campsite and the Harbour Inn were also submerged by 9pm and flood water flowed in to Pier Avenue as the night drew on. The sea, which is normally several metres beneath the pier, was lapping at the boards as the high tide hit.
Seven rest centres were set up across Waveney and Suffolk Coastal to provide shelter and support to people forced to evacuate their homes. Venues included Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft , Carlton Colville Community Centre, Southwold Sports Pavilion and St Felix School.
A further rest centre was set up in Hungate Hall in Beccles by the town council amid fears of flooding from the River Waveney.
Last night, community leaders said they believed the waters would be higher than the devastating floods of 1953 before they subsided in the morning.
Waveney District Council leader Colin Law was preparing to spend the night at Waterlane, where up to 60 people had sought refuge.
He said: 'Lowestoft is basically split. Both bridges are closed. We anticipating it will be higher than 1953 levels and we are obviously on high alert.
'We are going to knocking again to get people out to ensure that people are safe.'
Southwold mayor Simon Tobin, who is also the chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Community Emergency Group, was manning the rest centre at Southwold Pavilion, where a number of families spent the night.
A number of frail and elderly people were also evacuated St Felix School.
Mr Tobin said the town would be cut off overnight and he expected more people would arrive at the rest centres as the flood waters continued to rise.
He added: 'It could b worse than the 1953 floods. It is currently comparable and the wind might give us a second surge.'
The Environment Agency issued more than 30 alerts for East Anglia – including seven in the Lowestoft and Southwold areas – and warned of severe flooding that posed a potential danger to life.
A number of roads across the region were also closed – including the A12 at Blythburgh.
Meanwhile, police and other agencies were 'gearing up for a critical situation' with help being drafted in from inland areas.
The Suffolk Resillience Forum launched Operation Fulstone in response to the predicted surge.