UK houses top­ple into the sea

Fierce storm erodes cliffs, de­stroys homes as thou­sands are forced to evac­u­ate

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - JAMES RUSH

DEV­AS­TATED res­i­dents watched their cliff-top homes dis­ap­pear into the sea as last night’s tidal surge hit the east coast of Bri­tain.

Seven bun­ga­lows fell into the wa­ter in Hemsby, Nor­folk, as the high tide eroded the cliff be­low.

Flood­wa­ters are re­ported to be re­ced­ing af­ter the North Sea surge hit the north Nor­folk coast early yes­ter­day and headed south through­out the night.

Thou­sands of peo­ple were evacuated from their homes and spent the night in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion as of­fi­cials warned lives could be at risk.

The fierce At­lantic storm – which has al­ready claimed two lives – caused wide­spread dis­rup­tion yes­ter­day.

Steven Con­nolly, 54, and his wife Jackie, 64, man­aged to res­cue their three-month-old kit­tens Tom and Jerry be­fore their home in Hemsby of seven years was de­stroyed.

Only the pa­tio doors and a rear win­dow were left stand­ing as the home was torn in two.

Dozens of res­i­dents formed a hu­man chain to help sal­vage the pos­ses­sions of those af­fected.

Con­nolly, who bought the two- bed­room bungalow for £ 59 000 ( R996 000), said: “We were in the pub when we heard the cliff was go­ing and rushed to get what we could out.

“Peo­ple we’ve never even met were help­ing out, it was amaz­ing.

“Sud­denly we heard a shout, ‘it’s go­ing, it’s go­ing’ and we watched our kitchen get ripped apart. The whole house col­lapsed be­fore our eyes.

“We’re dev­as­tated at what we’ve lost but at least me, Jackie and the kit­tens are safe.”

The cou­ple are be­ing put up along with other res­i­dents at a nearby hol­i­day park but it is un­clear where they will live in the long term.

“Once the surge is over, they’re go­ing to sweep the beach and we may be able to re­cover some of our pos­ses­sions from a skip,” Con­nolly added.

“When we bought the bungalow there was about seven feet (2m) that sep­a­rated us and the sea. We al­ways knew it might be hit by ero­sion but never thought it could hap­pen so sud­denly. We can’t even be­gin to think about what hap­pens next.”

The house be­gan to tip into the sea at 8pm last night, Con­nolly said, and by 3am it was gone.

“It just hap­pened so fast. One minute it was safe and the next minute it was gone. We are ba­si­cally home­less.”

He added: “I’ve read the insurance pol­icy and we’re not cov­ered for coastal ero­sion.”

He said that it was not rain­ing but very windy with high seas and strong tidal cur­rents at the time of the col­lapse.

“The peo­ple who own the beach should have done some­thing to pro­tect it ear­lier,” he said.

The beach-side houses were swept away fol­low­ing the storm along with a lifeboat hut, also in Hemsby, and a beach­side café at Cais­ter-on-Sea.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Nor­folk said there was a risk of fur­ther flood­ing, es­pe­cially in the Hun­stan­ton area where some of the shin­gle bank has been swept away.

Speak­ing from the Cais­ter High School rest cen­tre, David Ash­worth, area man­ager for Nor­folk Fire and Res­cue, said: “things seem to have calmed down along the coast al­though there has been some dam­age to prop­er­ties, such as the old lifeboat shed and homes in Hemsby.

“We haven’t had any re­ports of in­juries, but ob­vi­ously more info will come to light through the morn­ing.

“There will be a strate­gic co- or­di­nat­ing group sit­ting down early. They’ll be given a brief­ing from the En­vi­ron­ment Agency and that will in­form the lo­cal tech­ni­cal co-or­di­na­tor about what we do next.’

At least 20 schools were closed in north Nor­folk and the Yar­mouth area while four were shut in Low­est­oft, Suf­folk, as lo­cal rail ser­vices were also dev­as­tated.

Po­lice mean­while have warned the pub­lic of the dan­ger of flood “sight­see­ing” af­ter peo­ple were seen run­ning into the tide and watch­ing the drama with chil­dren on their shoul­ders.

Forces is­sued the warn­ing af­ter re­ports of crowds gath­er­ing to watch last night’s tidal surge, which hit com­mu­ni­ties along the east of Bri­tain.

A spokesman for Nor­folk Po­lice said sight­seers placed them­selves at “sig­nif­i­cant risk” in Great Yar­mouth.

He said: “In the Gor­leston area, from River­side Road to the Ocean Rooms, and on to the beach and amuse­ments, large crowds – in­clud­ing peo­ple with small chil­dren on their shoul­ders – are gath­er­ing very close to the seafront.

“There are se­ri­ous con­cerns for their safety and po­lice of­fi­cers will be vis­it­ing this area to urge th­ese groups away from dan­ger.

“The high seas and ris­ing wa­ter are un­pre­dictable and the emer­gency ser­vices do not want to have to res­cue peo­ple who have put them­selves in po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions.”

The Fire Bri­gades Union said the chaos caused by the winds and floods showed there should be an im­me­di­ate end to cuts in the fire and res­cue ser­vice.

Gen­eral sec­re­tary Matt Wrack said: “Fire­fight­ers have done a mag­nif­i­cent job over the past 24 hours as they re­sponded to flood and storm in­ci­dents across many parts of the coun­try, res­cu­ing and evac­u­at­ing large num­bers of peo­ple, sav­ing lives and pre­vent­ing fur­ther risk.

“In many cases they trav­elled long dis­tances across the coun­try to pro­vide sup­port where it was most needed.” – Daily Mail

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PIC­TURE: REUTERS

DE­STROYED: A po­lice of­fi­cer looks at a house that fell into the sea dur­ing a storm surge in Hemsby, east­ern Eng­land yes­ter­day.

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