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Floods of 1953: No complacency as coastal engineers look to keep improving sea defences

08:00 09 February 2013

Felixstowe seafront in the 1953 floods.

Felixstowe seafront in the 1953 floods.

Archant

COASTAL communities must be vigilant, prepared and never complacent if they are to stay safe from flooding in the future.

The warning comes in the wake of the commemoration of the 1953 floods tragedy, which claimed the lives of 41 people at Felixstowe.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils, the Environment Agency and Red Cross have produced a special booklet to mark the 60th anniversary – looking at the events of that night, the reasons it occurred, what happened in 2007 when similar conditions were repeated but without the disastrous consequences, and what people can do to be prepared for the future.

“The tragic events were a catalyst for all those responsible for coast and flood protection, and also emergency planning, to invest in new defences and proper early warning systems,” said Andy Smith, cabinet member for planning and coastal management.

“This anniversary is an opportunity to remember those who died, and also the courage, selflessness and generosity of rescuers and local communities at the time, but also to focus on our responsibility to be always vigilant and prepared and to never be complacent.

“Our district has been leading the way in recent years with innovative partnerships involving our local communities and genuine partnership working between this council and the Environment Agency to improve our defences.

“Felixstowe alone has secured two major projects costing £20m, completing the provision of modern defences along the whole frontage of the town between the Deben and Orwell estuaries.”

The council worked closely with other organisations, to prepare for possible future events.

“However the better prepared individuals, businesses and the community are, the more resilient we all will be,” he said.

“There have been major improvements in defences and in forecasting and warning systems but we can never hope to defend everywhere against everything that nature can throw at us.

“The anniversary is a stark reminder why we all need to be as ready as we possibly can and that we should never forget the massive power of nature and the sea.”

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