Flood alert system on Norfolk coast under scrutiny

Wells-next-the-Sea flooded, 27 November 2011
Image caption Flooding affected the Norfolk coastline including the car park at Wells-next-the-Sea

A flood alert system is under scrutiny after residents in Norfolk said they were not promptly notified about an impending sea surge.

People living along the coast told the BBC they received no telephone or email alerts before Sunday's surge.

The Environment Agency said it would double-check any possible problems with its computer-based system.

However, it believed all warnings had been sent hours before the high tide.

The Environment Agency issued a number of flood warnings and alerts in the East of England on its website prior to a surge of water which hit the region on Sunday evening.

During the night a number of sea defences were breached in Norfolk, but there was little flooding of properties and no emergency call-outs were administered.

'We knew nothing'

About 16 residents in Walcott took shelter at the nearby Lighthouse pub after being told to leave their homes by wardens.

Many in the pub told the BBC they had not received any warning messages from the Environment Agency.

Resident Alan Morris said: "I'm somewhat disappointed in the electronic response we were all guaranteed we would get, provided we'd registered.

"My neighbour knocked and we knew nothing."

Another resident Keith Porter said he only found out about the flood threat after a nephew telephoned him.

Automated system

Anne Edwards, editor of the Great Yarmouth Mercury, also said she had also not received any messages from the agency while at home in Southtown, despite being signed up to their full alert package.

She added a "flurry of people" had contacted the newspaper with the same issue.

Richard Howton from the Environment Agency said there were no faults reported in their automated system, which showed warning messages to have been sent from about 10:30 GMT on Sunday.

He said he was "disappointed" to hear reports of people not receiving the messages and said the agency was looking into any problems that may have occurred.

He urged people who did not receive notifications to contact them to try and resolve the issue.

Mr Howton said some people who had problems may have not been signed up to the organisation's full alert package of landline phone and mobile calls, text messages and emails, or their contact details may have been out of date.

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