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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
Jane Jarvis, Lowestoft
Jane Jarvis
Jane Jarvis
Jane Jarvis was 14 years old. Her mother had a guest house on Marine Parade in Lowestoft. They were on the lower floor of the house.


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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"The buildings have two levels of road by them, so downstairs you’re level with the London Road South and upstairs level with Marine Parade. We had our living quarters down on the garden floor area.

"That evening we had a guest who came in the back way and said the waters up. We didn’t take much notice but within five minutes the back door burst open and a wave came straight up the hall. We were up to our waists within minutes, without being able to save anything.

"I can vividly remember suddenly seeing the piano going over and floating on its back. And we grabbed the dog, which was a very small dog. Apart from the dog we weren’t able to save anything.

"Being a guest house, people not able to get home that night were knocking on the door for accommodation. My mother, bless her, was obviously very upset by the fact that we were flooded, but she took everybody in who came to the door and they were sitting on chairs in the hall, up the stairs themselves, being a three or four storey building.

"All the stairs were occupied, all the rooms were occupied and we were just crowded with people who wanted to get in from the storm. So we have vivid memories of an overflow of guests, who all promptly left in the morning without any contributions towards anything they’d had!

"We had St John’s Church just at the rear of the building and I can remember seeing the policeman swimming along London Road to get to the church. He just dived in in his uniform and swam along. There was shouting coming from the Church and when I looked out I could see a hand through the window with a white handkerchief waving.

"I reported it to the people doing the rescue and it turned out there had been a children’s party in the school at the rear of the church and of course they were flooded and couldn’t get out. Someone had waded from the school room through the church to try and attract someone's attention.

"They were actually rescued by a small boat rowing into the church to get them out. And so you had this experience of seeing policemen swimming in the street a boat going into the church…

"It was quite a night of devastation...and the next day as the sun came up, the sun shone but the waves were still quite tremendous on the seafont.

"Well we didn’t actually think of ourselves- it all happened so quickly that you done just what you could at the time. You were more concerned to get people in out of the storm into some safe area. I don’t think we feared for our lives at all. We didn’t realise that we could actually have fallen over into the flood water and been drowned.

"There was no warning in Lowestoft that I was aware of – the first thing that we knew about it was the door bursting open and the water coming up the hall at a very very quick pace and that was the first warning.

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