North Norfolk 'disaster' under way

Environmental disaster came to north Norfolk - but it was all a simulation to test the emergency response of Norfolk's various agencies.

Environmental disaster came to north Norfolk - but it was all a simulation to test the emergency response of Norfolk's various agencies.

The RAF rescue helicopter was real, the police uniforms were real and the volunteer flood wardens were real, as were the media representatives on hand quizzing those present.

But Exercise Pontus was designed to recreate the very real possibility of coastal flooding on the Norfolk coast, in this case in Cley - and the necessary evacuations needed to keep people safe.

Students from Norwich City College acted as evacuees who were moved to safety at Cley Village Hall before being driven to a rest centre inland at Holt Hall, on the edge of Holt.

A small number of disabled evacuees were taken on the short trip by helicopter.

Chris Eldridge, operational planning manager at Norfolk police, said people in Norfolk were only too aware of the possibility of coastal flooding.

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“This event was a great opportunity for the emergency services and partner agencies to work together,” he added.

“There were a number of lessons learned about how to resource such an incident and the communications used by some of the volunteer groups on the ground. It was a very useful experience.”

And Nick Baker, North Norfolk District Council's strategic director for environment, described the exercise as a “genuine test”.

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