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

31st January 2003
Bert Ryder, Felixstowe
Bert Ryder
Bert Ryder
Bert Ryder had just moved out of the town but came back in after the flood to help.
FACTS

1953 EAST COAST FLOODS:

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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"There were several of us walking around with a broom and a shovel. I’ve got to say this, but the police weren’t very helpful at the time because they were stopping you from going into places...I think they were worried security-wise. I think that’s what a lot of it was.

"The pig sty was up near the level crossing, going down Walton Avenue. I can’t remember his name, but he had pigs in stys and the stys were made of corrugated iron but it wasn’t that real heavy corrugated iron, it was the lighter stuff.

"He said: 'For God’s sake Bert, can you give me a hand, I’ve got to get these pigs out of the sty.'

"But when I got to them, oh what a sight...t
he pigs had attempted to get out through the corrugated iron by catching hold of one bit of it in their mouth and then twisting it to tear it. Then twisting it again, and the bit they had already twisted was already, in their mouth. So they would make another grip and so on and so on.

"So they had huge rolls of corrugated iron in their mouths and of course they were all either suffocated or drowned. It was a terrible sight, a wicked sight.

"When we got to the sty it was a mass of red, because a lot of them had just bled to death. I can still see it now if I shut my eyes I can still the scene at the time.

"There was all sorts of things floating round there. It was one of the last places for the water to go from because Walton Avenue is very low.

"There was ponies floating about, there was pigs, there was hundreds and hundreds of chickens just floating about in the water. There was timber and sheds floating about and of course all the temporary homes, prefabs, were just floating around.

"When we first got there, there were prefabs floating down Langer Road. If you haven’t seen it you can’t really imagine it. You can think about it but you can’t see it, not the way I see it anyway.

"Although it was all that time ago I can remember some parts of it vividly, like getting hold of a chicken that wasn’t quite dead and shaking them out to see if you can get the water out. Some of them we did.

"You know like you shake a milk bottle to get the water out, we were shaking the chickens like that and some of them actually survived. Because once they could feel their feet then they could scrabble about and find somewhere to sit, with their head bowed.

"The smell was like a sewage smell, it was a cross between a sewage smell and salt water. It was a horrible smell. When you were walking you had to put one foot down and then had to look to see where you were going to put the other foot just in case you either stepped on something or the slime took your feet away."

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