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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 November 2007, 09:43 GMT
East weathers tidal surge
Deborah McGurran
Deborah McGurran
The Politics Show East

North Sea batters beach huts at Southwold (Pic: Rachel Temple)
Southwold took a battering from storm surge (Pic: Rachel Temple)

It was predicted to be the highest tide in Great Yarmouth for 50 years.

But in the event, fears of widespread flooding in the east diminished as tides peaked without major breaches of sea defences.

The worst hit areas in East Anglia were Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and the Norfolk rivers Bure, Yare and Waveney.

Rescue centre
Thousands of residents were evacuated

Thousands of people were evacuated from houses along the coast and spent the night sheltering in local schools, halls and pubs.

They were allowed to return home as surges passed without causing major damage but dozens of schools and roads in affected areas remained closed.

Transport links hit

At Haddiscoe a main road was blocked and the rail line between Norwich and Lowestoft was closed as floodwaters rose on the River Waveney.

In Lowestoft itself, high water caused some dramatic scenes on the sea front, but defences held.

Sea defences breached in Great Yarmouth
Sea defences breached in Great Yarmouth

Water breached sea defences in Great Yarmouth but Norfolk police said that, despite this, there was "no risk to persons or property".

The Environment Agency said water levels were expected to be nearly 8 inches (20 cm) lower than originally feared.

Close run thing

Environment secretary Hilary Benn said it had been a "close run thing".

"As far as East Anglia is concerned - Norfolk and Suffolk - it looks now as if the worst is over.

"It looks at the moment as if it's been a pretty close run thing.

"At Great Yarmouth, the Environment Agency say this has been the most significant event since the great storm of 1953."

Hilary Benn MP
The Environment Agency say that at Great Yarmouth this has been the most significant event since the great storm of 1953
Hilary Benn

Region vulnerable

The east has many low lying areas and suffers coastal erosion so it is particularly vulnerable to flooding.

The Government has a policy of managed retreat for sea defences here, relying on soft defences along much of the east coast affected by this storm surge.

Flood defence funding is based on the numbers of people who are affected which means that money will not be spent on areas like rural Suffolk and Norfolk where the population is low.

A storm surge, such as this one, highlights the challenges facing planners in the east as climate change could contribute to higher sea levels and more frequent floods in the future.

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