Severe flood warnings in Suffolk tonight, including the A12, Aldeburgh and Southwold

Felixstowe Ferry, closed while waiting for the high tide to pass. Photo: Stephen Squirrell

Felixstowe Ferry, closed while waiting for the high tide to pass. Photo: Stephen Squirrell - Credit: citizenside.com

Warnings of life-threatening floods are in place in Suffolk tonight as coastal communities prepare for high tides.

Eight severe flood warnings, which warn of a danger to life, are in place in Suffolk – including Aldeburgh, Snape, Southwold and Lowestoft – tonight and in the early hours of tomorrow morning, as the east coast braces itself for a storm surge and gale-force winds.

More than 1,800 homes in Suffolk now face a “high risk of flooding” , up from around 1,100 predicted yesterday.

Evacuation plans are under way and rest centres have been established. Residents in affected areas have been warned to stay away from “dangerous” beaches tonight and to find alternative accommodation.

The Environment Agency has issued 17 severe flood warnings in England, meaning almost half are in Suffolk. There are three in Essex. They have told this newspaper that they do not expect to issue any more severe flood warnings today, unless “the weather changes”.

Winds could reach 30mph along the coast today, forecasters have said.

Meanwhile, other severe flood warnings issued for further down the coast – such as Ipswich and Felixstowe – were this morning downgraded to flood warnings, meaning there is no danger to life but “immediate action” is still required. They were previously rated as severe flood warning for this lunchtime, but high water levels this morning were lower than expected.

People at Felixstowe Ferry heaved a sigh of relief at lunchtime as the predicted flood surge levels failed to reach the heights originally expected. See the video here.

The Clacton area has been evacuated by police.

Only one school closed in Suffolk today: Aldeburgh Primary School.

Click here to find out where the rest centres and shuttle bus stops are for Lowestoft, Aldeburgh, Snape and Southwold.

Click here for a timeline of the floods this week and today.

Severe flood warnings in place

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The eight severe flood warnings in place for Suffolk tonight are: Aldeburgh and Thorpeness (high tide due at 11.15pm; warning in force until 1.15am), Blythburgh and marshes upstream of A12 (warning in force until 11.45pm tonight), Lowestoft Seafront and Docks (high water due at 9.45pm tonight), North Bank of Lake Lothing (high water due at Lowestoft at 9.45pm tonight; warning in force until midnight), Riverside Business Park and Kirkley (high water due at Lowestoft at 9.45pm tonight; warning in force until 11.45pm), Oulton Broad near Mutford Lock (high water in Lowestoft at 9.45pm; no warning in force until midnight tonight), Snape, Iken and surrounding marshland (high water due at 1.15am tomorrow; warning in force until 3.30am), Southwold and surrounding marshes (high water due at 10.45pm tonight; warning in force until 1am tomorrow).

Southwold during the 2013 the storm surge. Photo: David Andrews

Southwold during the 2013 the storm surge. Photo: David Andrews - Credit: citizenside.com

The three severe flood warnings in place for Essex tonight are: The coast from Clacton to Lee Wick (high water due at Clacton at 12.15am tomorrow; warning in force until 2.15am tomorrow), West Mersea, The Strood and adjacent marshland (warning in force until 2.15am), Tidal River Stour at Mistley, including the Quay and The Walls (warning in force until 2am tomorrow).

The Environment Agency said: “We are currently experiencing high tide levels due to a combination of spring tides and a tidal surge.

“The gale force winds will cause large waves and sea spray resulting in potential damage to flood defences and flooding of property.

“Hazardous conditions are likely and you are advised to take care near coastal defences and avoid coastal paths and promenades.”

Downgrades and warnings

The following flood warnings, some of which have been downgraded from severe flood warnings (Ipswich, Felixstowe and Bawdsey areas), in Suffolk are: Tidal Orwell at Ipswich Quay (high water due at 12.30am tomorrow), Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey Quay (no time given but in force until 2am tomorrow), Felixstowe Ferry Hamlet and the Deben Marshes (no time given but in force until 2am tomorrow), Orwell Estuary from the Orwell Bridge to Felixstowe including Pin Mill (12.15pm today), South Felixstowe including The Port of Felixstowe (12.45pm today), Isolated riverside properties on the Deben Estuary (taking in Waldringfield, Woodbridge, Melton and Bromeswell – no time given but in force until 2am tomorrow), Orford Ness to Bawdsey including Butley (high water due at Bawdsey 11.15pm tonight), Walberswick, Dunwich and surrounding marshes (high water due at 10.45pm tonight), Woodbridge and Melton (high water due at 12.30am tomorrow), Tidal River Wang including Wangford (high water due at 10.45pm), River Stour upstream of Cattawade Barrage (high water due at 1.20pm today), North and South banks of the Stour Estuary from Shotley Gate to and including Brantham (warning in force until 2am tomorrow), Benacre Marshes and Kessingland Beach (in force until midnight), Isolated low lying properties along the tidal River Waveney (no time issued).

Flood warnings are in place in Essex for: Harwich Town, Dovercourt and Bathside bay (in force until midnight), Maldon Town waterfront and the Hythe (in force until 2am tomorrow), Parkeston Quay and the Ramsey River (in force until 2am tomorrow), Tidal River Colne at Point Clear and Saint Osyth Creek (in force until 2pm today), Tidal River Colne from Brightlingsea to the Colne Barrier (in force until 3.30pm today), Tidal River Stour at Manningtree from the railway station to Kiln Lane (in force until 2am tomorrow), Walton on the Naze (in force until 2am tomorrow).

For these warnings, the Environment Agency said: “We are currently experiencing high tide levels on the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex Coasts, owing to a combination of spring tides and a tidal surge.

“In addition there are gale force winds expected which may cause large waves and sea spray.

“The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities.”

Click here for the latest on the snow in Suffolk throughout Friday.

Suffolk Resilience Forum

The Suffolk Resilience Forum urging residents and businesses in coastal areas of Suffolk to be remain vigilant over the next 48 hours.

Specific areas have been identified as being at high risk of flooding, which includes around 1,880 properties, and plans are under way for the evacuation of homes, businesses and other properties in those areas, it was announced this morning.

A statement said: “At round 11.30am to midday today, the Environment Agency is anticipating a flood risk in the following areas: Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey Quay; Felixstowe Ferry Hamlet and the Deben Marshes; Isolated riverside properties on the Deben Estuary; Tidal Orwell at Ipswich Quay.

Ipswich Quay in the early hours of Friday morning. Pic: Matt Stott.

Ipswich Quay in the early hours of Friday morning. Pic: Matt Stott. - Credit: Archant

“Where possible, anyone living in those areas should make arrangements to stay with friends or family outside of the affected areas. Alternatively, the Suffolk Resilience Forum has identified rest centres for people who are likely to need to relocate.

“A rest centre at Brackenbury Sports Centre High Road East, Felixstowe is now open.”

Rest centres have been open from 2pm today, in the following locations:

- Leiston Leisure Centre Red House Lane, Leiston IP16 4LS

- Water Lane Leisure Centre, Water Lane, Lowestoft NR32 2NH

- Carlton Colville Community Centre, Hall Road, Carlton Colville Lowestoft NR33 8BT

Coach pick up points have been available from 2pm today at the following locations for those residents with no transport available.

Shuttle buses transporting residnts to rest centres will end at 7pm tonight.

- Aldeburgh: Community Centre – to take people to Leiston rest centre

- Snape: Snape Maltings – to take people to Leiston rest centre

- Lowestoft North: Lowestoft Railway station – to take people to Water Lane rest centre

- Lowestoft South: South Beach Pavilion – to take people to Carlton Colville rest centre

- Oulton: Nicholas Everitt Park – to take people to Carlton Colville rest centre

- Southwold: Car Park by Southwold Pier shuttle bus – to take people to Carlton Colville rest centre

If you need help with transport to a rest centres or if you have any other questions relating to these flood warnings, you can call Suffolk County Council’s helpline on 03456 032814, which is open now.

Residents in the areas likely to be affected are advised to check advice from the Environment Agency by clicking here.

People can also find out more information by calling the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Suffolk Constabulary advice

Officers are visiting homes in affected areas to provide details of local rest centres and an information leaflet

The following advice is offered for those people preparing for evacuation:

Stay calm and do not panic.

Police officers and / or other officials will try to visit all properties at risk to advise on the requirement to evacuate.

If road conditions permit, move vehicles to unaffected areas; for example higher ground, and ask friends / family if you can share their parking facilities.

You will be given details about your evacuation point for transport and the location of the reception centre either verbally or by a leaflet.

Try to check that any elderly / vulnerable family members or neighbours know about the evacuation.

Try to inform family members / friends as to where you are evacuating.

Listen to the advice of the authorities and follow any instructions to leave the property.

Take special foods and medicines with you.

Switch off gas and electricity.

If possible, move electrical equipment and furniture upstairs.

Any furniture that you cannot move upstairs, try to raise well off the floor.

Lock all doors and windows.

Block doorways and air bricks – sandbags are not available via local authorities

Avoid walking and driving through floodwater, there could be hidden hazards.

All of the agencies involved – including Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk Fire and Rescue, East of England Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Suffolk County Council, Waveney District Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council – have made plans and are working together to safeguard Suffolk residents.

Superintendent Kerry Cutler, of Suffolk Constabulary said: “We are taking this matter extremely seriously and would urge people in the areas likely to be affected to do the same. Rest centres have been established in the county and people in those areas are encouraged to find alternative accommodation outside of the affected areas or to make their way to the nearest rest centre well in advance of the high tide times. Leaflets have been distributed overnight

“We continue to work with agencies both locally, regionally and nationally, and are out on the ground talking to residents that are likely to be affected. We would continue to ask that you monitor local media and the Environment Agency website to ensure you keep up to date with any developments.

“We would urge anyone who may be currently considering going to the coast to watch the tidal surge, do not do this. This would be incredibly dangerous not only for those people but also as it may cause disruption and delay for emergency response teams and vehicles who are supporting local communities in these areas.”

Sandbags: Get your own

People are urged to get their own sandbags. Here’s why, explained in a joint Suffolk County Council and district/borough statement:

“(We) have taken expert advice and agreed not to provide sandbags to protect individual properties because they are often ineffective and provide false hope.

“The reasons are as follows:

• They will not protect an individual property against flooding. Water can get into a house through doorways, utility access points and through sewerage systems and can make the situation worse, as they can become contaminated with sewage.

• Sandbags are really only helpful to divert surface water on roads or from ditches – houses or businesses need proper flood defences fitting.

• Response agencies use the limited sandbags resources available in an emergency by deploying them in bulk to raise/repair existing flood defences or to divert water away from groups of properties.”

Environment Agency warning

Mark Sitton-Kent, national duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Gale-force winds and high tides are likely to create large and dangerous waves along parts of the east coast on Friday and Saturday.

“These conditions could also cause flooding to coastal roads and could impact properties.

“We understand that powerful tides can be dramatic, but please do not put yourself at unnecessary risk by going to the coast for a thrill or to take pictures. Please do not drive through flood water: just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.

“We are prepared to take action wherever it is needed. We have moved resources and equipment to the coast and the Army is on standby to assist if needed.”

Suffolk Coastal MP and floods minister Therese Coffey said: “Our absolute priority is protecting lives, homes and businesses from the threat of coastal flooding currently facing the east coast.

“That is why we have soldiers on the ground helping to warn and evacuate people alongside the emergency services and Environment Agency teams, who are putting up temporary defences.

“We’re working closely across government to monitor the situation as it develops and I ask people to check their flood risk, keep a close eye on updates and follow any advice from the Environment Agency and the emergency services.”

Driving advice

Officers are urging motorists to take extra care on the roads. They have reminded drivers to allow extra time for journeys and drive at sensible speeds. Leave appropriate distances between yourself and other road users and accept your journey will take longer.

Inspector David Giles, of the Serious Collision and Investigation Team, said: “Remember it’s illegal to drive with obscured vision so take time to let any condensation and frost clear from your windscreen, lights and mirrors before setting off on a journey.

“Particularly in icy or snow conditions, avoid harsh braking, acceleration or steering movements and check your tyres before setting out as tyres that do not have the right tread depth or pressure are more likely to lose grip.”

Advice includes:

- Make sure all your car lights are working and you have no failed bulbs.

- Ensure that dirt is cleared away from light fixtures.

- Keep windscreen washer fluid topped up as windscreens quickly become dirty from traffic spray and salt from the roads.

- Make sure you have sufficient fuel for your journey. Keep the fuel tank topped up.

- Take a mobile telephone with you and make sure it is fully charged. Carry a mobile charger in the car.