March 16 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Brackenbury Leisure Centre in Felixstowe was filling up this evening as people sought refuge from the expected floods.
At around 6.30pm, 30 people - 23 adults and seven children - had arrived at the building on High Road.
The decision to open it up as a refuge centre had been made by Suffolk Coastal District earlier in the afternoon and council staff were soon busily preparing supplies of hot food.
Earlier, police had knocked on doors at properties near the seafront, advising people to find somewhere else to spend the night.
According to Brenda Hammomd, environmental health officer at Suffolk Coastal District Council, the centre has been set up to help the more vulnerable people in Felixstowe, such as the elderly and those without relatives.
“They will have somewhere to sleep and we will be offering them food and will be giving out tea and coffee and things like that,” she said.
“What we are looking at is the sea coming about 44cms over the top of the [coastal] barrier.”
However, Mrs Hammond said she had no idea how many people might be using the centre overnight.
“All we know is that the police have been along the sea road and anywhere they think might flood, and telling people to get out but not forcing people them to go.”
The first people to arrive at the Brackenbury Leisure Centre were residents from Felixstowe’s Genesis Housing Association hostels, which provide short-term accommodation for people.
One of these people is Allan Winterton, aged 57, who been told to come down by Association staff.
He said: “I came about 4 o’clock because I live at the Buregate Road hostel and that has been evacuated.
“We’d been told about the weather earlier but we didn’t know what was happening.”
Another resident, Christian Smith, from Genesis’s Orford Road Centre, said he had not appreciated the scale of the warning earlier in the day.
“I knew it was going to be windy but didn’t realise it would be this bad,” he said.