Tidal surge evacuation exhibition to be held in Great Yarmouth

The River Yare approaching high tide in Great Yarmouth, at 8.30am on Friday 13th January 2017.

The River Yare approaching high tide in Great Yarmouth, at 8.30am on Friday 13th January 2017. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The importance of residents of Great Yarmouth evacuating their homes during a flood or tidal surge alert is to be highlighted at an exhibition in the town on Friday.

Called Be Safe, Not Sorry the exhibition in the Market Place between 11am and 2pm will illustrate the complex weather factors that can lead to flooding and the importance of evacuating during an emergency when people are advised to do so.

During last month's tidal surge 6,000 properties in the potential flood zone in Yarmouth were advised to evacuate for their safety.

Despite door-to-door visits from police and armed forces, it is estimated that 60pc of people chose not to leave their homes and thereby may have put themselves at unnecessary risk.

The exhibition is organised by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, in partnership with Norfolk Constabulary, partner emergency services, the Environment Agency and volunteers.

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It will feature information, flyers and a display of vehicles involved in the recent emergency response, including from police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, NorlSAR, Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response, and Centre 81.

There will be information highlighting the complexity of weather factors which need to coincide to create a severe flood warning or sea-surge scenario and the event will explain why emergency responders need to act ahead of the expected tide time when starting to evacuate.

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In addition, people will be able to meet community resilience volunteer and to find out for themselves more about what they can do personally to be aware of and reduce their own flood risk and prepare themselves for future emergencies.

Graham Plant, the council's leader, said: 'Our message is simple: If you are advised to evacuate, please do so before it is too late. Don't wait and see, don't go and see, don't gamble with your life. Go to a safe place you have pre-arranged, or to a rest centre. Take your medication, take your pets, under control or contained, and be safe, not sorry.'

Chief Inspector Nathan Clark, of Norfolk Constabulary, said: 'While major flooding was avoided on this occasion, the number of people choosing to stay at home was a concern to us. We would rather people take heed of the warnings and leave their homes, than risk the need for a rescue operation.

'I understand the inconvenience and disruption this can cause; however a decision to evacuate homes is not taken lightly and is based on the latest information from the Environment Agency.

'We are often dealing with small margins of error, and the significant number of properties affected by the risk of severe flooding is such that decisions need to be made in sufficient time for each home to be visited. While we can never be certain on how things will develop, our primary concern is for the safety of the public and protecting those most at risk from flooding.'

Graham Verrier, Area Flood & Coastal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency, said: 'Our response to the recent surge proved how well all organisations work together and were well prepared.

'Communities also worked brilliantly alongside us and our partners to protect their homes and businesses. We need to remember that whilst the defences did their job this time, if the surge had been a bit earlier or the wind changed direction, flooding would have happened and lives would have been at risk.'

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