THANK YOU - Meet the flood victims who have been helped by your generous donations
- Credit: Archant
It was a night of devastation, and when coastal communities saw the extent of the damage at first light they could have been forgiven for wondering when they would ever recover.
But within days, our appeal to help the flood victims was overwhelmed with donations from generous EDP readers who wanted to show they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who were suffering.
And as our appeal total approaches the £200,000 milestone, the money has already made a practical difference on the ground to more than 100 people.
For some, like Pat Gleeson, the donations have helped replace electrical goods and furniture that were covered by several feet of water, while for Lowestoft business Beactive Mobility, it will allow them to buy new shop displays.
Mrs Gleeson had a simple message for everyone who donated: 'I don't know what I would have done without you.'
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The December 5 tidal surge, which in some places was higher than the deadly 1953 flood, particularly affected communities such as Walcott, Hemsby and Lowestoft and caused several million pounds of damage.
But although the waters have receded, the need to support people rebuild their lives has not.
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To donate to the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal, send cheques made payable to EDP Flood Appeal to Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.
'I don't know what I would have done without you.'
That is the message from Lowestoft resident Pat Gleeson to generous EDP readers and appeal donors after she was given a £630 boost to help her recover from the tidal surge.
Mrs Gleeson, 55, has just moved out of her home in St John's Road so the rented property can be repaired after several feet of water poured into it. She has moved into temporary accommodation on Kirkley Run and may be there for up to 10 months while her flood damaged home is repaired.
She has used the £630 to buy household items such as a fridge freezer and a sofa and other pieces of furniture.
Mrs Gleeson said: 'The appeal fund has been absolutely fantastic. I don't know what I would have done without it.'
Mrs Gleeson was also one of 10 Lowestoft residents who were given free turkeys from Bernard Matthews by the EDP last month.
A Lowestoft business that received flood appeal cash welcomed a 'nice bit of positive news' after suffering £17,000-worth of damage in the storm surge in December.
Beactive Mobility shop in Lowestoft got £1,600 from the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal.
David Smith, managing director of the store in Bevan Street East, said: 'It is brilliant.'
The store was among a number of businesses in the same street to have suffered during the floods – with a handful still closed,
Mr Smith said: 'The level came up so high that by early on the Friday, we were left with puddles everywhere. It was higher at the back than it was at the front. The store was flooded throughout and at the very least it is £17,000 worth of stock and equipment.'
He added: 'Seawater is so damaging – it ruined our carpet, tiles and flooring all around the store as it was covered in muddy silt. It has written off some of the scooters – we lost three brand new scooters, some second-hand ones and we also had to repair three customers' products.
'The seawater corroded all the plugs and sockets and our telephone system was down for a week. We have had dehumidifiers in to dry everything up, but the water has got into the walls.'
The shop has been in the same premises for eight years. It closed on the Friday of the floods but reopened on the Monday.
Mr Smith said the money would be put towards new shop displays.
A woman vowed: 'One day I'll be back at Walcott' after the storm surge forced her from her home.
Pat Pini, 80, is currently living with her son in Holman Road, Aylsham, after her Walcott home for many years was destroyed by the tidal surge.
She moved to the village from Happisburgh in 1984.
She has received £1,000 from the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal.
'This was the first time I was in trouble. Water has been around my home before but not like it was this time when it came in. I loved it there,' Mrs Pini said.
She added: 'It was completely flooded out. I lost everything except my china. My carpet has gone and I've lost my furniture.'
All her internal walls were damaged by the water.
She said: 'The money was brilliant. It is nice to know people are thinking about you. I was very impressed with the fund. You tend to feel you are on your own but the response has been brilliant.'
Despite the future of her home 'hanging in the balance' she will spend the money on fencing to go around the bungalow.
Mrs Pini, who lived on her own in Walcott, said seeing the damage was terrible.
'My daughter-in-law broke down in tears. It was very distressing,' she said. 'But I'm quite a resilient person and you have got to get on with your life, whatever it throws at you. Me and my little car survived. I refuse to be down in the dumps because there are a lot of us in a muddle. One day I'll be back at Walcott.'
The grandmother and great-grandmother was insured with Saga, which she praised, but did not know how much money she would receive from the firm.
A retired plumber who had to use his savings to refurbish his home after the floods said he was overwhelmed after receiving flood appeal cash.
John Florence, 65, who moved to St Helen's Road, Walcott, in 2009 was given £1,000 from the fund.
He spent about £900 on a new kitchen, washing machine and fridge freezer after the tidal surge damaged many homes in the north Norfolk community.
Mr Florence spent £12,000 refurbishing his home after moving in because it had suffered from the Walcott 2007 flood.
He said: 'The cheque from the flood appeal was brilliant. I felt very humbled. I cannot thank the people who donated to the fund enough. If I had not had received the appeal money I would have used my savings and the only money I get is from my pension. It is unbelievable how much the appeal money has helped.'
Mr Florence added he originally applied for £1,300 but would have been happy with half that amount.
'I was overwhelmed with the cheque. I'm more fortunate than some people. There are some houses which have been devastated on the seafront,' he said.
Mr Florence, who has four children and seven grandchildren, said 2ft of water came into the ground floor of his two-storey home.
He attempted to move as much as he could upstairs after putting down sandbags but could not move a lot of his furniture or white goods from his kitchen, utility room, conservatory, lounge and WC.
'North Norfolk District Council were absolutely brilliant. The fire brigade from London were fantastic and there was plenty of help at hand,' Mr Florence added.
He did not have insurance and is living back in his Walcott home.
DIANNE AND GRAHAM BUTTERFIELD
A couple who have had to move out of their home for nine months because of flood damage have benefited from the flood appeal.
Dianne and Graham Butterfield, 65 and 69, have lived on St Helen's Road, Walcott, since 2006.
But they are now in temporary accommodation in Neville Road, Sutton, after the tidal surge damaged their three-bedroom bungalow.
They received £1,000 from the EDP appeal which will be spent on outdoor fencing and a new garden shed, which was not covered by insurance.
Mrs Butterfield, a family planning nurse in Great Yarmouth, said: 'I saw the fund was going up and up in the paper and we thought 'Where was it going?' It was nice to hear people were going to get it.'
She added: 'We organised ourselves and got bits and pieces ready if we needed to go. We moved stuff on tables and stuff into chairs but it didn't do a lot of good.
'Our bathroom and kitchen area flooded in 2007 so we thought it would be like that again but unfortunately it wasn't. The majority of the furniture went and all of our kitchen has gone.'
The couple stayed at their daughter's home on the night of December 5 but returned the next day to see the aftermath.
'It was just horrible, everything was covered in mud and was wet and squelchy. It was awful,' Mrs Butterfield said.
The part-time nurse said there was overwhelming kindness from the community after the disaster.
Mr and Mrs Butterfield had building and contents insurance through Natwest but they were concerned they would not be covered again in the future.
MICHELLE DELANEY AND MICHAEL ELDON
A couple who received £1,000 from the flood appeal have described the cash boost as a 'nice surprise'.
Michelle Delaney, 49, and Michael Eldon, 51, bought the former Ship pub on the Coast Road, Bacton, in October and were in the process of renovating their living area when the tidal surge hit.
The pub closed about three years ago and the couple hope to turn the building into four flats - one of which they will live in.
They are now permanently living at the old pub.
Mrs Delaney, a mobile hairdresser, said the fund money went towards kitchen units and a fridge freezer.
She was in the process of refurbishing a kitchen and bathroom during the December flood and some units stored on the ground floor were destroyed by the water.
Mrs Delaney said: 'Because we were decorating upstairs and making the flat liveable we put everything downstairs. Everything got damp. It has set us back with the renovations. We have had to put a lot of building material in the skip. Walls which had recently been renovated were wet through.'
She added: 'The EDP fund was a great help to replace some of the things which were damaged. I was feeling rather upset because I was going backwards rather than forwards. I'm very grateful for the help. It was a nice surprise and came in handy. It was nice of people to donate.'
She said she was in shock after her home flooded because she did not expect it and the couple's insurance would not pay for the contents because of the renovation work.
BYRON AND EILEEN COX
A retired couple are over the moon after receiving money from the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal.
Byron and Eileen Cox, 65 and 66, from Anne Stannard Way in Bacton, used the money to replace the bank, fence and steps at the bottom of their garden.
Their outdoor space backs onto the beach and the bank was destroyed by the tidal surge.
Mr Cox said: 'On December 5 I was trying to take the fence down and a wave came over me. My wife was screaming. As I came through the door the conservatory behind me came down and the wave came straight through the kitchen, into the hall and into the lounge. I slammed the door and no more water came in.'
The conservatory on the back of the bungalow had to be removed and the carpet tiles in the living room were replaced before Christmas. The kitchen floor needs to be replaced.
Mr and Mrs Cox remained in their home and have spent hundreds of pounds on new fencing and a bank because their buildings and contents insurance did not cover outdoor landscaping.
The flood appeal money will replace what they have already spent on the outside.
Mr Cox said: 'I was over the moon. I couldn't believe the amount we received. When we opened the post and found the cheque I was in tears. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the fund. People have been very generous.'
He added the couple were very lucky compared to other people who had to leave their homes after the surge.
A donation of £800 to Lowestoft resident Alan Spoor has been a 'godsend' as it has helped him to settle into his temporary home.
Alan Spoor, 56, has been finally forced to move out of his rented basement flat in Marina Parade after floodwater ruined the property and damaged possessions.
After sleeping on the floor of his brother's home for several weeks Mr Spoor has now moved into another flat while repairs can be carried out.
He has used a donation of £800 from our flood appeal to buy a fridge freezer and a mircowave.
Mr Spoor hopes to use the rest of the money to try and repair his washing machine.
He said: 'Thank you to everyone for their help. It is a godsend.'
NHS receptionist Stephen Doy was badly hit by the storm surge.
A pumping station near to his home in Bridge Road, Great Yarmouth, failed and sewage poured into his house.
The 41-year-old had been at work in Norwich when he heard his home was at risk, and returned to move his belongings upstairs.
He went to stay with his parents near East Dereham overnight, and came back the next morning to see the damage.
'The fire service were all there pumping the water out and the TV crews were there,' he said. 'We had stinking damp carpets as the water came up from the drain.'
He said he spent the weekend clearing out damaged furniture and his ruined carpets, but thankfully the water did not reach the height of his kitchen units.
He was initially put in temporary accomodation, and is now in a short-term let with no idea when he can move back into his house.
Driers have been in the address for the last four weeks.
Mr Doy, who lives alone, was given £500 from the EDP Flood Appeal fund to help meet his insurance excess and help with loss of earnings.
He said he was extremely grateful to all who donated, and to work colleagues who held their own collection to help him.
'You live to a budget so these are unexpected costs,' he explained. 'I'm not going to plead I'm poor, but it's a disruptive time.
'People have been very generous.'
Not the only resident to be affected, a couple who live near Mr Doy - who do not wish to be named - received £650 from the EDP Flood Appeal to help pay for sanitation and cleaning up, as well as living expenses and insurance excess. The damage caused by the sewage is forcing them out of their home for eight months.
The biggest grant was given to a resident of Lichfield Road in Southtown, Yarmouth, after flood water rushed through his kitchen and front room. As he did not have insurance, the grant of £1,500 will help him pay for a fridge and freezer - as well as the food inside, armchair, setees, tumble dryer, washing machine, some clothing, lino and carpet.
Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: 'The borough council is continuing to work hard to support the community following December's tidal surge, whether that be through providing temporary emergency accommodation for displaced households, demolishing the affected homes at Hemsby, or clearing up waste from the world-famous beaches.
'The borough council is also helping to administer the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal within the borough, which has provoked a massive community response and brought together the residents, local authorities and the EDP in helping the hardest hit households to get back on their feet in 2014.'