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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 08:48 GMT
Residents ride out storm surge
By Andrew Turner
BBC News, Great Yarmouth

Boat in harbour
Ships in the harbour are sitting well above the water line
Water lashed against Great Yarmouth's sea wall, sending spray 50ft (15m) in the air and debris spilling across nearby roads.

The ships in the town's historic harbour sat high in the water, gang planks and ladders hanging high above the quayside.

The water swelled on the River Yare, and a furious tide rushed in to the Norfolk Broads.

As a natural spectacle it was amazing, yet not enough to forget the potential human cost.

While the immediate threat of flooding has begun to recede, in the hours leading up to this spectacle there was distress, anguish and panic.

People tried to fill sandbags to protect their homes and property and waited to discover if their homes would be safe from the surge.

I saw a huge scaffolding plank drifting downstream near the Haven Bridge where water lapped at its underside. It took less than a minute for it to cover hundreds of metres.

Relatives' help

In 2006, Great Yarmouth was flooded four times by rain and sea water, so it is no surprise that people in the town have been taking the latest flood warning very seriously.

A lot of people have likened this alert to the 1953 floods, or at least their expectations of the potential consequences.

But in 2007 Great Yarmouth has much better sea and river defences. Had it not been for those defences some people fear the town could have been in the same position as 1953.

I was one of those who had to swing into action in the middle of the night, calling relatives to help me protect my house and move furniture upstairs.

Haven Bridge
The river level has reached the bottom of the bridge

At the moment I feel incredibly relieved. I would rather be inconvenienced in putting back furniture than being forced to rip out sodden carpets and dry out wet plaster.

But there has been some localised flooding.

Water edged towards the top of the Haven Bridge, one of the main routes into the town, and South Quay, alongside the River Yare, has been flooded.

Schools and community centres across the town have been opened as rest centres for those who have fled. They are full and many are oversubscribed.

Family fears

The mood of the people across Great Yarmouth has been mixed.

Some people just wanted to be allowed to stay in their homes and have treated the evacuations as an inconvenience.

Others, who have seen it all before, were resigned to fact they had to be moved to the rest centres.

Many others were visibly upset at being forced to leave their homes, especially those who had previously been flooded.

Some cannot get insurance because of previous incidents, some simply cannot afford it such is the level of the premiums.

For these people, the storm surge could have proven disastrous.



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Fears of flooding
09 Nov 07 |  In Pictures
Tidal surge 'poses grave danger'
09 Nov 07 |  England
Minister urges calm over surge
08 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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