Homes and businesses flooded after heavy rain batters the coast
PUBLISHED: 12:59 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54 17 August 2020
Homes have been flooded and people have been told to stay away from a north Norfolk beach after heavy rain hit the coast.
Storms over Sheringham have caused havoc today, with traffic brought to a standstill, three sinkholes opening up and homes and businesses forced to fight flood water.
There were also early fears of sewage running into the sea via flood water. However it is now thought the discoloured water has been caused by dirt running off nearby fields.
Environment Agency officers attending the scene confirmed it was not sewage but run-off from heavy rainfall.
Chris Taylor captured an image of dark water running into the sea with his drone at 10.15am on Sunday morning off Sheringham seafront.
Mr Taylor had headed out to capture images of the town after it was hit by torrential rain and described what he thought could be a huge effluent or sewage slick coming out of the beach road overflow pipe onto the beach.
The Sheringham resident also reported seeing people swimming in the water.
He said: “I thought it was just going to run off from the road. There was a bit of a sewage smell that made it feel more sinister.
“It was torrential [the rain]. I do not remember seeing rain that heavy for many many years. I have taken a lot of footage of water pushing drain covers up.
“It is a pretty strong smell. It smelt of sewage.”
The photographer said he had to stop two tourists from heading into the water.
Cobain Peck, 21, said there was “nothing else to do” but to come and see the water rush onto the beach.
“The drain is at a 45 degree angle so it must take some real force,” he said.
“We are upset we didn’t see it burst through at the time. It is mad.”
Paul Witherspoon, 17, works at The Offshore cafe on the seafront and said the drama had brought more people to the beach and into the cafe.
“After the first downpour families came out to have a look and we had a steady flow of people over lunch,” he said.
“But as the second wave hit we died off.”
Lifeguards have also red flagged the entire beach and are advising that people do not go into the water.
North Norfolk District Council staff were on the scene in the early afternoon putting up signs to warn people not to go into the water.
A council spokesman said: “We are in Sheringham assessing the situation and will be working with the police, Norfolk County Council and Anglia Water to put into place necessary support to households and businesses affected by the heavy rain in the town.”
The council has also asked people to avoid accessing the beach in the area.
HM Coastguard were at the beach as of 2pm, trying to ascertain what was in the water.
Leader of North Norfolk District Council, Sarah Bütikofer also attended and said people were being asked to stay away from the water while they investigations were carried out.
She said the council was working with Anglian Water to resolve the issue, and said the water could have been affected by run-off from soil in nearby fields, rather than sewage.
“The colour of the water is like dirt and with it being a different weight to the water it’s why it is sitting differently,” she said.
“We are keeping the coastguard here to keep it clear until we know what it is.”
An Anglian Water spokesman added: “Our teams are working hard to ensure our sewer network is running as it should to take this surface water away as quickly as possible.”
Firefighters and fire officers have also responded to nine call outs around Sheringham in relation to flooding since 10am this morning.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue have attended reports of flooding in Knights Green, Childs Way, Uplands Park, Lusher Close and Marrams Avenue.
Firefighters have also assisted a motorist after their vehicle flooded on Weybourne Road.
Weatherquest reported that 20mm of rain has been recorded falling at a weather station in Weybourne.
A spokesman said: “We have lots of showers and thunderstorms developing across the region.
“These showers and thunderstorms are set to continue through the rest of the afternoon into the evening.
“20mm is a fair amount of rain and some places will have seen more.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Our officers are en route to investigate reports of discoloured water entering the sea from a drain at Sheringham sea front. From the photos, we believe that the discharge is surface water from street drains as a result of heavy rainfall in the area.
“We appreciate people taking the time to report suspected pollution incidents to us, as it means we can take steps where necessary to keep people and the environment safe.”
Elsewhere in the town, three busy roads have been closed due to sinkholes opening up because of heavy rain, with one measuring 10 foot by foot.
Motorists are being asked to avoid Cromer Road, Weybourne Road and Copper Road.
Any resident affected by flooding can contact an out of hours number on 01223 849782.
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