WEST NORFOLK: ‘The sights I saw that day were horrific’
Long-stifled emotions rose up as survivors and the families of those involved in the devastating and deadly 1953 floods gathered to remember.
Services were held along the West Norfolk coast and in Lynn yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of the floods which saw more than 80 people from the area lose lives.
Holding back tears, Brenda Page, 79, said: “Just looking along the coast the following day was so terrible.
“Everything was just shattered. Walking along you didn’t know what dreadful thing you would see next. It could be something as simple as a child’s shoe.”
Mrs Page, of Fullgate Road, Heacham, attended a rededication of the village’s flood memorial on North Beach.
In addition to the lives that were lost more than 20,000 homes and businesses were destroyed.
Roy Williamson, 69, and his family discovered his mother Peggy’s cafe had been swept from Heacham’s North to South beach.
When they went out to search for the building the day after the flood, bodies were still being recovered.
Mr Williamson, of Fountaine Grove, South Wootton, said: “As a boy of 10 years old the sights I saw were horrific.
“We came down and everything was upside down. The policemen and firemen were all about and people were searching trying to find their homes and property.”
Fred Rudd, 69, Malthouse Crescent, Heacham, said: “I walked down here with my father about a week after and there were still dead donkeys lying about. The whole thing was devastating for people.”
The North Sea flood, fuelled by a storm with 100 mile-an-hour winds, affected a swathe of England’s east coast as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland.
During Heacham’s service, organised by the parish council, children from Heacham Junior School laid a wreath at the memorial and read poems they had written after trying to put themselves in the shoes of the children of the day. There was also an address from The Rev Steve Davies and councillor Tracey Swann.
Miss Swann said: “The wreath that we lay today, made by Heacham Junior School with the debris of the beach, serves as a reminder that our village does not forget those whom the sea have taken from us nor those who risked their lives to save others.”
Among the heroes of the rescue was the late Reis Leming, an American serviceman, who was awarded the George Medal for his efforts. His family flew over to attend Hunstanton’s service.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 5 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North