Relief after flood threat eases

As the flood risk for Yarmouth evaporated yesterday morning a weary-looking Chief Supt Ray Adcock reflected on just how close the town had come to disaster.

As the flood risk for Yarmouth evaporated yesterday morning a weary-looking Chief Supt Ray Adcock reflected on just how close the town had come to disaster.

From noon on Thursday as soon as it became clear the coastal town was at the epicentre of a weather phenomenon potentially on the same awesome scale as 1953 he had taken charge of the multi-agency emergency control room set up at Yarmouth police station.

Yet despite marshalling resources from all over the country in the biggest operation of his 30-year career, he admitted it still required a little help from Mother Nature to avert catastrophe.

“Until 5am we were being lashed with hail and strong winds but then it suddenly abated, and I think that's what saved us,” he said.

Haven Bridge river watchers had watched fascinated as the level of the racing, swirling water gradually rose, but despite seepage through the walls and minor breeches in places, Yarmouth's defences held solid past the 7.15am high water point.

Chief Supt Adcock, who had worked round the clock apart from a short break from his hot seat in the early hours, praised the commitment and co-operation of his emergency team, pulled together from all kinds of agencies, including Yarmouth Borough Council, Anglian Water and EDF Energy.

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He said: “We had at our disposal the national assets of the fire service which included boat rescue teams and major pumping resources should they have been required. We also had helicopters from various police forces as well as the RAF on standby.”

Chief Supt Adcock described how 160 police officers and PCSOs from as far afield as Essex, Hertfordshire and London were deployed on the streets of Yarmouth throughout the night, offering advice to householders and smoothing the evacuation of nearly 700 residents into the five reception centres set up at local schools.

To prevent the possibility of sightseers turning up and hampering the operation they had taken the decision to close the main roads into Yarmouth - the A1064, the A47 and the A47 - from 3am.

He said: “A sign of the scale of the operation, and a testimony to the hard work of Yarmouth Borough Council staff, is that 40,000 sandbags were handed out.”

Chief Supt Adcock paid tribute to the co-operative attitude shown by the public and said there were numerous tales of community-spirited action and very few reports of incidents that required police attention.

He made a plea for a continuation of that spirit in the way people disposed of sandbags, not tipping them in the road and clogging drains.

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