Sea Flooding - 2

People and homes at risk

Below, left, casualties at Hemsby Marrams where ninety-eight coastal bungalows have been lost to the sea in the past fifteen years due to the encroaching sea, fortunately with no loss of life. Below, right, shows Heacham in north-west Norfolk where erosion is lowering the beach threatening the seaside properties.

In 1953 over 300 lives were lost in Norfolk alone when the North Sea burst through the poorly maintained sea defences. More than 24,000 homes were under water and thousands of acres of valuable farmland inundated.

Many parts of the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline are still protected only by dunes and sand cliffs now rapidly being eroded because offshore aggregate dredging is causing the demise of our beaches, salt marshes and soft cliffs. Over 120 seaside residences have been lost to the sea in the past ten years, fortunately with no loss of life up to now.

The tide levels above right those predicted as nominal are shown below.

Top left, enhanced waves attacking a sea wall, once an extensive beach and dune system prior to beach sand stripping.

Bottom left, damage revealed to the sea wall at vulnerable Caister-on-Sea following a minor surge over the 1999-2000 Christmas holiday period.

Below, left, soft cliff erosion at Happisburgh where coastal homes are being destroyed as the foundations are eroded by the sea. The “factory chimney” is in fact a well with the surrounding soil stripped away

Below, right, is an aerial photograph of Winterton-on-Sea where over 100 metres of dune have been lost to the sea in the past ten years. Other than soft marram dune banks, there is no sea defence whatsoever.

Because of tectonic sinkage and rising sea level, if the same conditions as those of fifty years ago came about again the surge sea level could now be as much as two and a half metres above those of 1953. Furthermore, global warming dictates that the barometric pressure could be lower, the wind speed higher and longer sustained, so giving rise to an even greater sea rise. The potential loss of life resulting from this could be very serious, particularly now that funds for sea defence is being reduced.

It is with the above in mind that RAYNET maintain a very close look at the tidal and weather situation, throughout the year, but in particular throughout the winter months. In another tidal surge all normal communications links could be lost with power and telephones unavailable. Evacuation of people, needs for food and clothing, reports on tide conditions and damage, roads closed, reports of the status of survivors and coordination with their evacuation would all need communications. This is where RAYNET comes in.

Pat Gowen G3IOR

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Coastal Erosion, sea flooding and inland flooding