New flood committee for tidal surge clean-up

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Media captionDavid Cameron heard the Environment Agency's early warning system had worked well

There's to be a new government committee to oversee the clean-up in the wake of last week's storm surge.

And who better to lead it than Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, where sea levels hit the highest ever recorded.

The minister for local government and communities will oversee the reconstruction of homes and businesses along the east coast.

Although there's no new money being made available for the recovery operation, the committee will have the power to marshal resources into areas where extra help is needed.

The announcement was made as the prime minister visited one of the areas affected to see first hand the damage caused by the surging tides.


Looking at racks of soaked clothing and muddy tide marks in the shops on the quay at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, he said that it was one thing to be briefed in an emergency "Cobra" meeting but quite another seeing it.

"This was a bigger flood than 1953 when 24,000 homes flooded - this time only 1,400 homes were flooded but that's no help for the people whose homes were flooded this time," said Mr Cameron.

The tide in Wells was the highest they've ever seen. Of course, the eastern coast is no stranger to tidal surges. In the floods of 1953 more than 300 people were killed.

Fortunately, this time there were no serious injuries but about 200 homes across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk were flooded and several homes fell into the sea.

Mr Cameron added: "These were terrible floods and it was a very difficult event, but the resilience of people here in Norfolk must be praised.

"The systems worked well, the flood wardens did a brilliant job and the police, fire service, lifeboats and the whole community pulled together."

With Christmas only weeks away, Mr Cameron said it was important that insurance companies paid out promptly and people had the support they needed to restore their homes.

And spare a thought for the injured seal pups washed up in the storm. The RSPCA wildlife centre at East Winch in Norfolk is now appealing for equipment to cope.

I wonder whether the committee can help?