Norfolk floods: Seven Hemsby homes badly damaged by waves

Villagers rallied round help the couple salvage what they could before their home was swept away

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Seven cliff-top homes were badly damaged as the biggest tidal surge in 60 years hit the Norfolk coast.

Three properties fell into the sea at Hemsby and four more were "seriously undermined" in the east coast storms.

Ray Mooney, who was inside his home as the storm hit, said: "I heard a crash and the whole back part of the floor caved in. Everything went down."

He said he was assessing the damage but expected the property to be either demolished or washed out to sea.

"This is my only asset," he said. "That's it, I haven't got anything else.

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"I had just done the house up to sell but now I have nothing. I'm homeless."

Great Yarmouth Borough Council said seven homes at The Marrams in Hemsby were affected.

"Three properties were lost down the cliff edge last night, and the other four properties are seriously undermined," a council spokesman said.

"The council's housing officers are currently on site and will talk to affected families about whether they need temporary accommodation."

A house in Hemsby Seven properties on the Hemsby coast were destroyed
Beach Road, Hemsby The damaged properties were in Beach Road, Hemsby
Ray Mooney's house in Hemsby Ray Mooney's house was left teetering on the edge
Hemsby house Steve Connelly's home at Hemsby was also destroyed by the sea surge

Steve Connelly, 54, and his wife Jackie, 64, managed to rescue their three-month-old kittens Tom and Jerry before their home nearby was also destroyed.

The beach at Hemsby is unusually busy today. Alongside the sound of crashing waves you can hear the 'click click' of camera phones. The homes which were damaged by last night's tidal surge have either dropped off the cliff onto the beach or are dangling precariously. Around seven houses have been hit in this way, the structures have been photographed by hundreds of people and no doubt posted to audiences worldwide.

Residents here were in the local pub last night raising funds for better sea defences when they realised just how badly they'd been hit by the storm. Steve Connelly and his wife Jackie said their house vanished "in minutes".

Neighbours quickly formed a human chain and passed the Connellys' belongings and their two kittens out of harm's way. The Connellys lived at their home for seven years and were planning to sell it. They're now homeless and not even sure they're covered by their insurance.

Emergency crews continue to bustle around the village checking people and properties are safe. Concerned residents run errands and shifts boxes trying to help their less fortunate neighbours in any way they can. In the local pub, a tray of mince pies does the rounds and a huge pot of soup is constantly topped up to feed the volunteers. "We've all come together" one local man tells me, "It's what we do!"

Mr Connelly, who bought the two-bedroom bungalow for £59,000, said: "We were in the pub when we heard the cliff was going so rushed to get what we could out."

He said residents formed a chain to help them rescue furniture and some belongings.

"People we've never even met were helping out, it was amazing.

"Suddenly we heard a shout 'it's going, it's going' and we watched our kitchen get ripped apart. The whole house collapsed before our eyes.

"We're devastated at what we've lost but at least me, Jackie and the kittens are safe."

The land on which the homes stood, 30ft (9m) above the shore, has been washed into the sea.

The seven families have been given emergency accommodation.

In Cromer, part of the sea wall collapsed and the pier was closed for safety reasons.

Much of this had crashed on to Cromer Pier, breaking slates on walkways into pieces.

The Coastwatch station at East Runton had to be abandoned after the cliff on which it stood collapsed.

Secretary Ian Arnold said: "All of a sudden the cliff gave way and all that was left was the fence hanging over the waves."

"This bungalow has fallen off a cliff", says Jo Black outside Steve Connelly's home

Thousands of people spent the night in emergency centres after leaving their homes because of the weather.

Waves pounded the coast, bringing down many sections of cliff from Hunstanton in the north west of Norfolk to Hemsby in the south.

Two more peak tides are expected in the next 36 hours.

The power went off on South Quay in King's Lynn and parts of the town were left underwater.

Firefighters rescued several people from floods in King's Lynn, Bacton and Walcott.

Many homes have lost electricity because of flooding or high winds bringing down supply cables and engineers have been working to reconnect them where possible.

Cromer Pier Cromer Pier, which was closed for safety reasons, has been partly flooded

In other developments in Norfolk:

  • A burger van floated away from Cromer seafront overnight and was lost at sea
  • About 400 seals have been "lost" in the North Sea surge, Friends of Horsey Seals says
  • Because of damage to Cromer Pier, Pavilion Theatre shows have been cancelled until Monday at the earliest
  • At least 30 beach huts have been destroyed along the town's seafront
  • The car park attendant's hut at Blakeney has been taken by the surge towards Cley
  • Two caravans were washed on to the flooded road at Walcott
  • The shingle bank at Hunstanton has been swept away
  • Thousands of fish at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary have had to be taken to facilities in Weymouth in Dorset, after power to life support systems was lost
  • The Army was brought in to help protect the telecommunications infrastructure in Great Yarmouth
The coast at Hemsby Seven homes were destroyed as the sea battered the Norfolk coast

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