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You are in: Suffolk » Don't Miss » 1953 East Coast Floods

Wednesday 29th January, 2003 - 09:00 GMT
The 1953 East Coast Floods
Aerial view Felixstowe - pic copyright Aerofilms.
Aerial view of Felixstowe © Aerofilms
The 31st January and
1st February 2003 mark the 50th anniversary of a catastrophic flood that hit Eastern England.
SEE ALSO
BBC Weather:
East Coast Floods 1953
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INFO
Information, courtesy of the Environmental Agency.
IMAGES

Images from Aerofilms.
Prints available from library@aerofilms.com

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WHAT HAPPENED?

During Saturday 31st January 1953, freak winds drove a storm tide surge down the North Sea.

By evening this had reached the East coast of England where sea defences were over-topped and damaged by the huge waves.

Breaches occurred in 1200 places resulting in disastrous floods and one of the worst peace-time disasters ever – comparable only to some of the heaviest nights of the blitz.

The damage was high - 307 people died, 24,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, over 30,000 people were evacuated.

Canvey Island in Essex, with a population of over 11,000, was worst hit. The whole island became underwater and 58 people died. Every single house (mostly bungalows) was evacuated.

There were financial implications as well -
£30 - £50 million worth of damage was caused (at 1953 prices).

ABOUT THE STORM
  • night of 31st Jan/1st Feb 1953 greatest peace time disaster

  • great storm surge and gale force winds in North Sea

  • sea wall defences smashed over 1000 miles of coastline

  • defences breached in 1200 places

  • 307 people lost their lives

  • 32,000 evacuated from their homes

  • 24,000 homes flooded and damaged

  • factories along the Thames estuary were out of use for weeks

  • water supplies contaminated and stopped

  • roads impassable

  • 200 miles of railway out of action

  • 160,000 acres of agricultural land flooded with salt water

  • huge livestock losses (over 46,000)

WHAT HAPPENED IN EAST SUFFOLK
  • virtually no warnings were passed down the coast due to phone lines down because of gales

  • tide 8 ft above predicted levels

  • 46 dead

  • 20 seriously injured

  • 220 homeless

  • every river estuary/valley in the east affected, sometimes to a depth of 10 feet

  • sea overwhelmed grazing marshes of Deben, Orwell and Stour valleys

  • huge acreage's under water, especially Aldeburgh and Bawdsey

  • salt water killed virtually everything, plants and animals, years before earthworm seen again

  • farmers given grants, land had to stand idle for three years, gypsum put on soil
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