Floods Anniversary - Most terrible of Saturdays, 60 years ago - SEE PICS
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the devastating floods which lashed the West Norfolk coast and left a trail of destruction and death in their wake.
A total of 73 people died after tidal waves washed over sea defences and sent flood water flowing into people’s homes on Saturday, January 31, 1953.
Major rescue operations were organised as seafront bungalows were swept away in Hunstanton while homes were ruined in Snettisham and Lynn.
And local residents, together with US airmen based at nearby Sculthorpe, became heroes as they joined the rescue efforts.
The devastation, which hit large parts of the east coast, was caused by a combination of high tides and a storm surge, where air pressure and strong winds push water across long distances.
Hunstanton had seen some of the worst devastation where more than 30 people died.
High waves crashed into wooden bungalows, which were home to between 80 and 100 people.
American servicemen and British civilians battled through the night to save the residents of the bungalows.
An amphibian capsized at sea while a rescue boat ran aground.
American Staff Sgt Freeman Kilpatrick was awarded the George Medal for saving 18 people by swimming through the floods.
US airman Reis Leming was awarded the George Medal for his part in a rescue mission. The 6ft 3in airman fought against strong currents to pull a rubber dinghy to save people from the bungalow ruins. He was taken to hospital at 4.45am after becoming unconscious.
In the days following the tragedy Hunstanton put out a call for help as its water supplies had been contaminated by the sea water.
Women are busy clearing up holiday camp cafe at Snettisham which was left covered in mud after the flood water receded.
Villagers bravely walked out to the beach to warn others after the alarm was raised at 6.15pm.
Crowds of people were transported from the beach to welfare stations the Station Inn, church hall and Leslie’s Tea Rooms.
A total of 25 people were killed in the village, including 19-year-old Peter Beckerton who died while trying to warn elderly neighbours.
Residents in Heacham lined up along the south part of the beach to queue for drinking water.
The village used the same supplies as Hunstanton, which were contaminated.
But drinking water was being distributed by US airmen while firemen used loud speakers to remind people not to use the tap water.
Young survivors of the floods were cheered by a Royal visit in the aftermath of the flood and their singing even managed to bring a smile to the Queen’s face.
The Queen along with the Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Gloucester visited Gaywood Park School in the days after the disaster.
The party also went to Hockham Street and Diamond Street to see the damage and clean up operation along with a welfare station in the Stanley Buildings.
During her visit the Queen heard of the Butcher family’s narrow escape from their caravan in Wisbech Road.
Marie and husband Jack along with children, seven-year-old Lynne, 16-month-old Jackie and two-month-old Susan, who had just left hospital after being born prematurely, managed to get out of their caravan moments before it was overturned by flood water.
A scene of devastation in Wisbech Road was seen on February 1.
A caravan parked in a garden is flung on its side against a wall.
Hedges and fences were carried away.
Vehicles and pedestrians make their way through 6in of water.
But survivors of the floods exhibited a Dunkirk spirit.
Among them was Mrs H Gathercole, who despite having to be rescued from her bedroom window in Langham Street, answered the call to duty by Norfolk County Council’s Schools meals services.
She went on to serve and prepare food for the hundreds of flood victims.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west