Coastal communities emerge unscathed following flooding scare
- Credit: Archant
Holidaymakers and homeowners are breathing a sigh of relief after the threat of severe coastal flooding passed without major incident.
Communities along the Norfolk coast had been on high alert this morning after the Environment Agency warned of an exceptionally high tide and force six north-westerly winds.
Residents and people staying at holiday parks in Hunstanton, Heacham and Snettisham were told yesterday (September 30) they may need to evacuate their properties in the likely event of a tidal surge.
But the wind direction remained predominantly south-westerly and the high tide passed at around 8.40am without managing to breach sea defences along the shoreline.
A flood alert remains in place in the Hunstanton area and in various other locations across the region including King's Lynn, the tidal River Yare and the north Norfolk coast from East Cley to Kelling Hard.
The Environment Agency has, however, given residents the all-clear to return to their coastal homes and caravans.
Michael Wright, who lives near Peterborough but stays at Heacham Holidays every other week, spoke prior to the high tide with optimism.
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"I thought I'd come down to the beach this morning to see what it's all about," said Mr Wright. "I don't think it's going to be as bad as they say but you've got to be cautious.
"I'm not unduly worried at the moment and I'm just going to stay and have a look to see what happens. I'll take it as it comes and will be here for the next hour or two just keeping an eye on things.
"I've got my car packed and ready so if it does get bad I'm definitely ready to go, but I think I'll see it out."
Darren Trumper, from the Environment Agency, said this morning that the plan of action was to patrol the seafront and ensure the safety of local people.
Speaking at 8am this morning, he said: "I'm one of many teams patrolling the coast based on the forecast we've had, making sure communities and properties are protected from the high tides.
"From talking to our partners and control rooms, the wind is gradually dropping as we're seeing now and the forecast is good for this area in terms of the wind direction.
"Over the next hour we're stood down and we'll now patrol up to Hunstanton and back to Heacham to check the tide hasn't breached any of the defences.
"There are many communities and several different partners making sure everybody's safe."
Despite the dramatic warnings of severe flooding and the potential need for evacuation, one Heacham resident - who asked to remain anonymous - said the risk was simply a consequence of living in the area.
"When you live in a beautiful place like this, the possibility of flooding sort of comes with the territory," said the 49-year-old.
"We've been told quite a few times that we might need to leave, so it's a fairly regular occurrence. Just a few years ago we had the floods that badly hit the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre.
"There's a risk living here and the global warming seems to be having some sort of impact as well."
Annette Colbron, from Milton Keynes, was on a caravan holiday in Hunstanton with her husband when they were informed of the impending evacuation.
The 72-year-old sought refuge at Hunstanton Community Centre on Avenue Road, where those who chose to leave their properties were offered a place to shelter.
"We got a text yesterday from the owners of the holiday park and then heard on the radio about leaving by 7am," said Mrs Colbron.
"The weather hasn't been good so I wasn't too surprised, but it just seemed a little bit unreal this was happening to us.
"We left the caravan at 7am because we're right near the sea and, had it come over the sea wall, it definitely would have affected us."
As rain continues to pour, the Environment Agency says its immediate concern is planning ahead to combat further dangers.
A spokesman said: "This morning's tide came in lower than expected and there have been no reports of property flooding in Hunstanton.
"Flood alerts remain in force for coastal areas along North West Norfolk for today and tomorrow's tides.
"The Environment Agency and its partners continue to work together to prepare their response to Wednesday morning's high tide. At this stage we are not anticipating further evacuations, however we are closely monitoring the situation."
People are being advised to stay away from swollen rivers and avoid driving through flood water.
For the latest flood warnings, call the Environment Agency's floodline on 0345 988 1188 or check their website.