Gallery: Evacuation of 1,000 homes and businesses as severe flood warnings reaches 35 for East Anglia

Emergency flood plans are in place in Southwold before the surge that is due to start on the evening of Thursday 5th December.
Nick Attfield, landlord of The Harbour in Southwold, has completely emptied the pub before the flood. Emergency flood plans are in place in Southwold before the surge that is due to start on the evening of Thursday 5th December. Nick Attfield, landlord of The Harbour in Southwold, has completely emptied the pub before the flood.

Thursday, December 5, 2013
8:31 PM

Around 1,000 homes and businesses in the region are preparing for evacuation today after 35 severe flood warnings were issued for East Anglia.

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Emergency flood plans are in place in Southwold before the surge that is due to start on the evening of Thursday 5th December.
Nick Attfield, landlord of The Harbour in Southwold, has completely emptied the pub before the flood.Emergency flood plans are in place in Southwold before the surge that is due to start on the evening of Thursday 5th December. Nick Attfield, landlord of The Harbour in Southwold, has completely emptied the pub before the flood.

Operation Fulstone has been launched by the Suffolk Resilience Forum in response to the severe flood warnings – the most serious level – issued today by the Environment Agency.

Senior officers are understood to have met this morning as the prospect of being battered by the worst storms for 30 years faces the region.

By 4pm, a total of 35 severe flood warnings (severe flooding, danger to life), 63 flood warnings (flooding is expected, immediate action required) and 18 flood alerts (flooding is possible, be prepared) had been issued for East Anglia by the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency and Met Office have issued a ‘Red Alert’ warning to residents along the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coast, particularly between Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk and Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, that severe flooding is forecast from 7pm tonight, through the night and in to tomorrow.

The high tide is expected to reach Kings Lynn, in Norfolk, by 7pm, moving on to Great Yarmouth by 10.30pm, Lowestoft by 10.45pm and Felixstowe at 1.20am. It is expected to progress south down the coastline through the evening.

Fears are mounting the storm could be the worst in a generation, eclipsing the one experienced in 2007.

It comes as forecasters predict gusts of 50mph today.

A council leader has spoken of his fears of “gearing for a critical situation”.

Meanwhile, an experienced Suffolk fisherman has warned it would be “completely idiotic” to brave the seas today.

Motorists have also been warned not to travel along coastal routes overnight, with a warning over the “deceptively dangerous” and “powerful” moving flood water.

Rest centres are also to provide shelter and support to people forced to evacuate their homes on the Suffolk coastline.

Follow this link for our live feed on the flood.

A Suffolk Resilience Forum spokesman said precautionary evacuation is recommended in the following areas, affecting 1,000 people:

Lowestoft seafront and docks

North bank of Lake Lothing

Oulton Broad near Mutford Lock

Aldeburgh and Thorpeness

Snape, Iken and surrounding marshland

Riverside Business Park and Kirkley

Blythburgh and marshes upstream of A12

South bank of Lake Lothing from Bourne Business Park to Mutford Lock

Southwold and surrounding marshland

A combination of high tides, low pressure and gale-force winds has put communities on red-alert in the region, with concerns raised the sweeping floods could be as severe as those in 1953 when coastal areas were devastated across eastern England.

Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge. Farmers are being urged to protect their livestock and consider moving them out of affected areas.

The Environment Secretary is currently chairing a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee to discuss the response to the storm.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk Resilience Forum is working through plans for the following areas:

Tidal Orwell, Ipswich

Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey Quay

Isolated riverside properties on the Deben Estuary

Felixstowe Ferry Hamlet and the Deben Marshes

Police officers are attempting to make contact with the owners of properties in these areas to provide details of the action that needs to be taken.

A leaflet containing key information has been produced and is being handed out by officers.

David Skevington, assistant chief constable at Suffolk Constabulary said: “The most recent modelling by the Environment Agency has made it clear that areas of the Suffolk Coastline and surrounding residential and commercial properties are likely to be affected by flood waters.

“Officers from agencies across the county are working together to ensure the risk to residents in those areas is kept to a minimum.

“It is important that residents listens to the advice and direction that is given to them by officers on the ground and take the appropriate action.

“Rest centres are being set up to ensure there is somewhere safe for people to remain for the duration of the incident.

“We anticipate a number of roads will be closed later today due to flooding. I would urge people to monitoring the local media and the environment agency website to ensure they keep up to date with any developments.”

In a message on Twitter the Prime Minister said: “I’ve asked Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to chair a Cobra this morning on the storm disruption - ensuring everything is being done.”

John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency, said: “Flooding of coastal communities along the eastern and north west coasts is expected today and in to Friday. Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.

“The Environment Agency continues to monitor the situation closely, working alongside partners including the emergency services, the Met Office and local authorities. Our teams have been out in force checking that flood defences and barriers are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and issuing flood warnings.

“Coastal paths and promenades will be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of people being swept out to sea.”

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