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24 September 2014

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

31st January 2003
Ben and Monica Bennett, Felixstowe
Monica and Ben Bennett
Ben and Monica Bennett
Ben and Monica Bennett were in their twenties at the time of the floods. They were living in rooms in Levington Road.

Ben worked for the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company.


307 people drowned

24,000 homes flooded

1,200 breaches along 1,000 miles of coastline

160,000 acres of farmland flooded

46,000 livestock lost

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"I was working from 8 'til 12 midday on the Saturday. The wind was that strong on my way home I couldn’t pedal my bike properly and one of Rogers’ lorries stopped and gave me a lift up to Levington Road. Of course I went home and never thought no more about a flood or anything occurring that day.

"The Saturday night we went to bed and I think we would have slept through it until Mrs Porter, the landlady we were living with at the time, came knocking on our bedroom door to say the water was coming up the stairs and we had no electricity or anything.

"The water gradually came up to the top stair in Levington Road and we were panicking. In fact the next door neighbour, Sam Smith, he started to knock the slates off the roof, thinking he would have to get on the roof if the water came up any higher.

"As luck would happen when that got to the top stair that started to decline a little bit. I suppose that was when the tide started to go out. Anyway that didn’t come any higher than the top stairs. So we hadn’t got no cigarettes or anything in the bedroom all we had got was the clothes what we took upstairs.

"We opened the windows and everybody was shouting and trying to communicate with one another. We sat there until the early hours on the Sunday morning and then people started coming in little rowing boats, asking people if they could help them.

"Naturally they were going to the people that were in need first. Anyway one of my mates that I used to work with, he was one of the first persons I see in a rowing boat and he chucked me some cigarettes up, which I was thankful for.

"Later on, Mrs Porter, that was the landlady we were living with, her son came along with a rowing boat and he got us out through the bedroom window. I had to lower my daughter, she was only three at the time, we lowered her down in a blanket into the boat and then we got into the boat and he rowed us across to the Beach Station railway station.

"That’s where we got off the boat and we walked up the railway bank to the Ordnance and we went to our friends, who had got a prefab in Langley Avenue, and she put us up for about three weeks."

Can you describe the scene around you?

"There were sheds, cattle, because they used to have a lot of cattle on the marshland there. There was cattle floating about, all debris, wooden sheds and everything.

"As a matter of fact there was one person, Tom Collins, he was an old fisherman and he came out in his back garden. Of course there was nothing anyone could do for him, the water just washed him away.

"We see that, but we couldn’t do nothing about it, we were in the bedroom. He came out of his back door wondering what was happening I suppose and the water just submerged him and took his life. Never heard no more of Tom.

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