Thousands flee homes as east coast awaits major flooding
Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes as Britain’s east coastline prepares for severe flooding.
The Environment Agency (EA) has issued 17 severe warnings - which warn of danger to life - with those in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex most under threat.
The east coast will be hit by the storm surge during the second high tide with gale-force winds and higher than usual tides expected to bring waves crashing over coastal defences.
Evacuations were under way last night in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, Jaywick, Mistley and Mersea in Essex, and residents in 1,800 properties in East Suffolk are also being told to leave their homes.
Rest centres have been set up for residents in areas affected by the flooding.
Norfolk Police was working with the fire service and the Army to visit more than 5,000 properties in Great Yarmouth ahead of a storm surge at high tide.
Superintendent Dave Buckley, who is co-ordinating the response, said: “We understand people will be anxious but this action is necessary on the back of the latest information from the Environment Agency, which suggests the threat is significant.
“Military resources – around 200 troops – are en route and will start arriving shortly to assist with the evacuation process and we also have additional police resources in place to this response.”
In Suffolk, Lowestoft and Waveney are expected to be the areas worst affected by flooding.
Train passengers heading to and from Lowestoft were not able to travel after 8pm last night, Greater Anglia and Network Rail said.
The EA has moved more than five miles (8km) of temporary barriers and 25 pumps to depots and towns along the east coast.
The Chief Fire Officers Association said it had mobilised 15 fire and rescue services to assist in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Humberside.
While the first high tide in the early hours passed without major incident, there were fears that the second tide last night could be higher than anticipated.
EA national duty manager Mark Sitton-Kent said: “The combination of gale-force winds, high tides, dangerous waves carrying rocks and a coastal surge means parts of the east coast are extremely dangerous.
“We have issued severe flood warnings and urge everyone to check their flood risk and ensure they are in a safe place.”
The flooding threat comes as Britain is battered by wintry conditions, with severe Met Office weather warnings for ice in place across the country.
Scotland and the North of England were covered with a blanket of snow. manage
SPECTACULAR: Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour, County Durham, as a storm surge hits England’s east coast