Britain’s most famous weather man Michael Fish has performed an official opening of Hunstanton Sea Life Centre – ten months after it was ravaged by tidal flooding.
The centre has undergone a £3 million refurbishment and Michael joined the young conservationists – a group of pupils from the town’s Redgate Junior and Infant School – to take the first tour.
Nigel Croasdale, general manager of the sanctuary, said: “I can’t find the words to say how I feel.
“I’m excited and so relieved to get to where we are today. It has been a long 10 months.
“I will never forget that night. Once water started pouring into the building we were helpless.”
More than 2,500 creatures had to be hastily evacuated to partner Sea Life centres across the country after the tidal surge on December 5 last year.
The sanctuary’s power and life support systems were knocked out, windows cracked and tanks lifted off their foundations.
Mr Croasdale said adaptations have been made in the refit to help buy time if a flooding event or other emergency were to happen in the future. Plug sockets have been fitted higher up the walls and the centre now has a second back-up generator.
December’s tidal surge battered the entire east coast and was the worst since 1953, when hundreds of people were killed.
Mr Fish said it was that event, when he was aged seven or eight, that inspired him to become a weather man.
Now semi-retired, he still takes an avid interest in the weather and fears incidents like tidal surges will become more frequent due to global warming.
He said: “The weather is changing and changing for the worse. The chances of getting another surge like the one that adversely affected this place are increasing.
“Without a doubt we are going to get more heavy rain events, more strong wind and more flooding.”
Mr Fish will forever be synonymous with disastrous weather after he advised viewers there was nothing to worry about just before a hurricane tore across Britain in 1987. His visit to Hunstanton coincided with the 27th anniversary of that infamous forecast.
The sanctuary reopens to visitors tomorrow (Thursday, October 16).
Redgate Junior School pupil Scarlett Martin, aged nine, said: “It’s really nice.”