A £3 million re-fit will ensure Hunstanton’s flood damaged Sea Life Sanctuary re-opens as a much improved attraction.
That is the message from Nigel Croasdale, the centre’s manager, who has revealed the facility should be up and running again in time for October half term.
Meanwhile, flood repairs at Brancaster are ongoing and Titchwell RSPB nature reserve has discovered one of its flood defences needs a costly replacement.
Mr Croasdale said: “From the outside the sea life centre might look fairly similar, but once you step inside the front door it will look like the resort has obtained a brand new, modern sea life centre. There will be some new tanks and there may be one or two surprises in the way of animals.”
The centre had hoped to reopen in time for the summer season, but the damage from December’s tidal surge has proved too severe.
The seal hospital, which usually rescues and rehabilitates around 30 pups each breeding season will also be unable to operate this summer. The RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, expects to be able to take the strain.
More than 3,000 fish and animals were evacuated from the sea life centre and are being cared for at other centres across the country.
Mr Croasdale said the Hunstanton centre, which attracts around 100,000 visitors each year, has retained its core staffing team of around eight people, some of them having temporarily redeployed to Great Yarmouth. It usually offers seasonal and temporary positions to around 20 others, but will not be recruiting until later in the year.
Carol Bowyer, Hunstanton mayor, said: “It is of course a concern that we won’t have the sea life centre here for the summer season. It brings an enormous benefit to the town and it brings visitors and families in, though we do have many other attractions. The fact that it hopes to be open by October is light at the end of the tunnel.”
At Brancaster, the Environment Agency and Norfolk County Council is continuing to complete repairs on the flood damaged flood defence on Beach Road and the footpath along it is now open between the village andbeach on the east side. Works on the north and west flood bank should be complete by October.
Staff at Titchwell RSPB reserve have just discovered that a flood defence there suffered severe damage and will cost tens of thousands to replace. It plans to launch another appeal for funds. Bird lovers already donated £80,000 for repairs at Titchwell and Snettisham where boardwalks and hides were washed away.