Narrow escape for Lowestoft as tides rise across the town
- Credit: Archant
Relieved Lowestoft businesses and residents narrowly escaped flooding after battening down the hatches as tide levels rose high around the town.
Sightseers gathered around the bascule bridge at about 9.30pm, which had been closed around 8pm by police as a safety precaution. Mutford Lock bridge in Oulton Broad was also closed.
People also took dramatic pictures of the waves crashing over the sea defence rocks at Hamilton Dock and at the Children's Corner area of the South Beach, which was only reopened last year following repairs from the last tidal surge in 2013.
Late-night businesses such as the Joseph Conrad pub and McDonald's, which are directly opposite the bascule bridge, closed before the high tide, putting sandbags by the doors.
Mutford Lock remained closed late on Friday (January 13) but the bascule bridge was reopened after 10pm as the worst of the problems passed.
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Rest centres had been opened at 2pm at Carlton Colville Community Centre and Waterlane Leisure Centre.
Lings Honda in Riverside Road was severely hit by the tidal surge in December 2013.
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Director Paul Barkshire said: 'We are very encouraged by the flood defences that we currently have and the good news is that getting early warnings have been an absolute Godsend for us.'
A number of businesses in Bevan Street East, including Beactive Mobility, were able to buy their own flood defences with money provided by the government following the 2013 tidal surge.
David Smith, managing director of Beactive Mobility, said: 'We had nothing last time apart from sandbags. We had £20,000 in lost stock but hopefully it will be OK this time.'
In Southwold, the popular harbour area was under a foot of water, but firms had evacuated their premises in preparation for any flooding.
The Harbour Inn had already been evacuated early in the morning, minimising any damage, and the nearby Harbour Marine Services had embarked on a two-day operation to protect boats and equipment at its site.