Up to 500 homes and businesses in West Norfolk coastal areas could be evacuated later today, with emergency services braced for the worst east coast tidal surge since the 1953 floods.
The Environment Agency and Met Office are warning that gale-force winds, large waves and a tidal surge will combine with high tides today, tomorrow and Saturday.
An Environment Agency statement said: “In some places sea levels could be as high as those during the devastating floods of 1953. However, flood defences built since then mean many parts of the country are much better protected than in 1953.”
Throughout the year, emergency services practice their response to large scale flooding and today those plans are being put into place.
Currently the advice to people in at risk areas is to take any reasonable steps they can to protect their homes and listen to local radio and watch the Lynn News, Norfolk Police and Environment Agency websites for more updates. The risk period is expected to be between 7pm and 8pm tonight, Thursday, December 5, when high tide hits.
Emergency planners will be meeting all day to assess the weather conditions and decide whether evacuation is necessary. If it is, police officers will visit homes and businesses that need to be cleared.
Supt Neil Bailey said: “Our level of response will include the whole range of considerations from just warning people up to full evacuation if that is absolutely necessary. That full range of options is currently under consideration.
“We and all the emergency services are putting a large a amount of resources in place to keep people safe. We are taking this extremely seriously.
“If we need to evacuate people, residents will be getting a personal visit from a police officer.
“People should be taking action to do anything they can to protect their homes against potential water damage.
“We do have sea defences in place and if they do their job it really reduces the risk of any damage.
“As soon as we have more information it will come out to the public.”
Red alert warnings have been issued for specific roads in Hunstanton, Heacham, Snettisham and Lynn and an amber warning is inn place for the entire stretch of the River Great Ouse between Denver and Lynn and the coast between Lynn and Hunstanton.
Areas particularly at risk include:
* Locations along South Beach Road and Seagate Road, Hunstanton. Access may be affected on Bishop’s Road near the roundabout in Hunstanton
* Properties along the sea front at Heacham. Properties and caravan parks on North Beach and South Beach Road as well as Jubilee Road between the defences
* Properties in front of the flood defences, along the sea front at Snettisham
* Properties between the sea defences at Shepherd’s Port, Snettisham. Caravan parks at risk are Shepherds Port and Snettisham.
* Areas close to the River Great Ouse at Lynn, from the relief channel to Riverside Industrial Estate
People in those locations should call the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for more information.