NORTH NORFOLK AREA: 10pm update: Residents in tears at Walcott. Cromer seafront badly damaged.
PUBLISHED: 22:13 05 December 2013 | UPDATED: 22:13 05 December 2013
Archant Norfolk 2013
Homeowners have been left in tears as flood waters have crept towards their homes in north Norfolk - while Cromer seafront suffered major damage from the surging sea.
Residents of Poplar Drive, Walcott, who initially were not expecting the rising tide to reach their homes, were left visibly upset after they were told the surge had reached their driveways.
Lorraine Fowler, who moved into the road a year ago with husband David, was left in tears by the news. The couple have just spent thousands getting their bungalow “right”.
Since the storm hit more people have had to be evacuated from the village.
Brian Dickinson, 84, who is disabled, and his wife Dorothy, 80, were among them and were rescued by boat from their bungalow in The Crescent.
The couple are now safe and dry at the Lighthouse Inn - one of six evacuation centres that have opened across north Norfolk this afternoon - which is now full to capacity with people who have had to leave their homes.
Tony Garbutt, north Norfolk sector manager for the Coastguard, said the flood team was still trying to move the last people who were in vulnerable homes.
About an hour ago there were 20 but the list is going down “all the time” but he said situations were “developing” in Bacton and Eccles.
Fire and rescue teams have been dispatched to help Mundesley inshore lifeboat, which has been working “flat out” and in Beach Road, Bacton the waters have smashed the window of a property, flooding its kitchen.
Crowds of onlookers gathered on Cromer clifftops to watch the spectacle of waves smashing into the jetty and its flanking seawalls. People shouted fireworks-style “ooohs” as the waves spray towered into the sky.
More than 70ft of promenade walls were smashed down, and most of the beach huts reduced to matchwood, while Starvin Marvin’s seafront snack bar from the Melbourne slope was believed to be swept out to sea.
Earlier in the evening coastguards rescued six men who were fishing on the pier - using safety lines and lifejackets to guide them through the knee high water surging along the promenade.
Cromer coastguard station officer Jim Lilley said the men were relieved to be rescued, but were given “safety advice.”
At Blakeney sea water rushed up Westgate Street, Blakeney, leaving pavement and roads under inches of water.
Staff at the King’s Arms pub, which dates back to the 18th century, were seen throwing buckets of water out of the building, and the surge seeped into Westons fish shop.
Allan Urquhart, who lives on the seafront, rowed to the King’s Arms to collect a friend and said the pair would stay on the first floor of his home tonight.
He said: “I’m confident as I can be. This is the worst flooding I have seen so it could be a difficult night for lots of people.”
Ruth and Simon Flint, from King’s Lynn, who have owned a holiday cottage on Westgate Street for the past 30 years, returned to their property this morning.
They said: “We thought we should be there to see it and keep an eye on the property. It didn’t dawn on us until this morning just how serious it could be.
“The parish council was very good at giving us sandbags in advance. At the moment it is just a case of sitting tight and hoping the property will be ok.
Our thoughts are with people on the quay.”
Among those evacuated to the Lighthouse are Dave and Wendy Crabb who left their residential caravan at the Walcott Caravan and Chalet park at 4pm.
Mr and Mrs Crabb said they were only taking important documents, including insurance policies, with them.
“We’re going to the evacuation centre at the Lighthouse Inn and if it looks like as if we can’t get back tonight we will sleep in the Stalham High School rest centre,” said Mr Crabb.
The couple, who moved into their home in the summer of last year, said they had also left their home in the October surge scare.
“This time it looks a lot more serious. They’re saying it could be worse than the 1953 floods. There’s not much we can do, our caravan is raised above the ground so we hope that will help,” said Mr Crabb.
Site owner Patricia McCarthy had visited all the residents on the park earlier in the day telling them that they would need to evacuate their homes at 4pm, he said.
Defiant Happisburgh resident Bryony Nierop-Reading is leaving her home teetering on the clifftop tonight, and heading to a borrowed holiday cottage further inland but still in the village she loves.
She said waves were breaking over the clifftop tonight and was “scared stiff” about what had happened to her home.
“One corner of my home is now about 1m from the edge and more of the cliff has fallen,” she added.
Evacuation centres have been set up at:
■ Blakeney - Blakeney Village Hall
■ Cley - Cley Village Hall
■ Morston - Morston Village Hall
■ Salthouse - The British Columbia Hall
■ Walcott - The Lighthouse Inn
■ Wells - Alderman Peel School
Police or flood wardens will be visiting residents in affected areas to advice them in advance to leave their properties, and to help them move.
The centres are used to muster those who cannot get out of their homes. If the flooding is set to be prolonged, people will be moved into rest centres, which are also being open from 4pm.
These are at:
■ Holt Community Hub, Charles Street
■ Stalham High School
■ Alderman Peel High School, Wells