Friday, 6 December 2013

Haddiscoe Floods 2013

Living in a house built on the edge of what was once an estuary 1500 years ago has always left us feeling just a little vulnerable to flooding. Reassuringly the house didn't flood in 1953 during the great East coast floods so we've always thought it unlikely although the waters came right up to the bottom of the garden, flooding the marshes. However yesterdays severe flood warnings right along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast had me following the unfurling events nervously.
The day began with a stunning "shepherds warning" sunrise whilst I was out feeding the sheep.

Stuck indoors at work all day I missed the worst of the stormy winds but it was still blowing hard as I arrived home at dusk. Our land was under a Flood Warning so I thought it prudent to move the sheep on the marsh closer up to the house and nearer to (slightly) higher ground in case the worse should happen. Moving sheep in the dark in a howling wind isn't easy and one group headed off in the opposite direction towards our wettest marsh with a daughter in hot pursuit, stumbling in watery pools. Fortunately the sheep were quickly retrieved and driven to relative safety.
The tide in the river at St Olaves is two and half hours behind the coast and so with news coming through of over-topping of sea walls in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, it wasn't until 11.30pm that I drove across the A143 Haddiscoe Dam to check the river at the New Cut. It was a very dark night with the newest of moons just a sliver on the horizon so it was difficult to see much but a loud rushing noise could be heard and my torch beam fell upon a mass of water gushing over the river wall just beyond the bridge, luckily on to the opposite side to the wide expanse of marsh where my marshes lie. I noticed a trickle of water at my feet and decided it would be prudent to leave. Fortunately over night we suffered no flooding.
This morning my route to work was flooded Pic here. However it was passable with care especially by lorries, buses and 4x4s (myself included) but I saw at least 2 cars grind to a halt in the water to the embarrassment of their drivers who had ignored the road closed signs. By lunchtime the tide had risen again and in the daylight it was possible to see the mass of water pouring once more over the Cut and the extent of the flooding.

The sign marks the road out to Haddiscoe Island, the water to the right is usually grazing marsh. We were lucky, this is fortunately the extent of the flooding here. The North Norfolk coast looks devastated and the reserves along the Yare valley sound like they may have suffered too with salt water incursion in to the fen habitats.

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