Walcott homes evacuated during tidal surge flood warning

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Media captionFlood co-ordinator Richard Cook said he was confident water had not reached houses

People have been evacuated from their homes after the Environment Agency warned of flooding during a tidal surge on the Norfolk coast.

More than 30 people sought shelter at The Lighthouse Inn, the official flood rescue centre in Walcott, where high water hit at 10:45 BST.

A force eight north to north-west wind meant the tide was predicted to be 3m high.

By midday the worst of the surge appeared to have abated.

The Walcott coast road remains closed, with seaweed and other debris strewn across along the seafront.

The Environment Agency also issued a flood alert, meaning flooding is possible, in a larger area along the Norfolk coast and marshy areas inland.

Norfolk Police has said the coast is "very dangerous" and warned people to keep away from the coastline between Hunstanton and Weybourne, where high tide is expected at 12:40.

Road 'like a river'

Richard Houghton of the Environment Agency said: "Our attention is very much focused on Walcott because of the risks to properties there.

"Not so much with waves coming over the wall, but there is a significant amount of spray which can make water accumulate."

He added that there should be a normal high tide at just before midnight on Thursday, but there could be the knock-on effect of water locked in the Broads for up to three tides.

Richard Cook, a flood co-ordinator from North Norfolk District Council, said the council had to make sure people were protected.

"The warnings were excellent - we've managed to get people in here [the centre] today, and make sure everyone is safe."

The flood wardens prioritise people with mobility problems, with police, the fire service, Coastguard and Mundesley lifeboat also at the scene.

Alan Robinson, of Helena Road, said he and his wife headed to the centre "just in case".

Stuart Richards, who lives on the seafront at Walcott, said he and his wife were unable to return to their flooded house for a year after the 2007 tidal surge, but had "done all we can" this time.

BBC Radio Norfolk reporter Andrew Turner, at Walcott, said he had seen waves 15ft (4m) high crashing against the sea wall and spraying up much higher.

Image caption Large waves battered the coastline at Cromer

"We've now got a large area of the road covered in seawater, it's like a river," he said.

"The wind hasn't dropped. The tide is at its peak but, at the moment, we've got a situation where everyone is safe."

Mundesley lifeboat coxswain Brian Hall said: "Let's hope there's no-one silly enough to go out today.

"It's absolutely evil. The best place to be watching it is from your bedroom window."

'Extremely rough'

BBC Radio Norfolk reporter Jill Bennett, at Wells-next-the-Sea, said it appeared the town had "got away with it", with seawater lapping the car park.

Speaking at about 09:30 BST, she said: "The sea is extremely rough, there is a strong wind and it's raining pretty hard."

The Met Office has said it will be cold and windy all day, with coastal gales and frequent heavy, squally showers across much of Norfolk - particularly around Great Yarmouth.

On Thursday night it is expected to be "very windy", perhaps "severe" on the coast, with some heavy, thundery showers for parts of the county.

Friday is forecast to feel cold, with a strong, raw, north-easterly wind.

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