Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flooding 'may put lives at risk'

Flooding 'may put lives at risk'

Severe flood warnings are in place on parts of the east coast of England, with the Environment Agency warning of "extreme danger to life and property".
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn warned there was a serious flooding risk with strong winds and low pressure causing a North Sea tidal surge.

Norfolk and Suffolk have six severe flood warnings. Parts of Kent, Essex, North Yorks and Lincs are on alert.

The Dartford Creek and Thames barriers are set to be closed at 2000 GMT.

The flood alerts are a response to weather and tide patterns being tracked this week by the Environment Agency and the Met Office.

Wind speeds of about 50mph are predicted, with tide levels potentially reaching up to 9.5ft (2.89m) above normal sea levels.

The Met Office said the peak of the storm surge was expected to coincide with low tide, thereby mitigating some of the worst potential effects.

'Act now'

However there are six severe flood warnings, five flood warnings and 22 flood watches nationally, covering North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north Kent coast.

The severe warnings in place from Great Yarmouth down to Shingle Street, and on parts of the River Bure and River Yare, carry an Environment Agency alert stating: "Severe flooding is expected. There is extreme danger to life and property. Act now."

Suffolk County Council said it was considering whether to order people in vulnerable areas to leave their homes because of possible flooding, while in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, sandbagging preparations were under way.

Localised flooding

From the north Kent coast around to Sandwich and Deal, people were being asked to keep an eye on the weather and tides.

The impact there is expected to be less severe - with predicted tides 5ft (1.5m) above average - but there is still a risk of localised flooding.

The Environment Agency warned that any cars parked at Sandwich Quay could be damaged, while emergency planners at Dover District Council are on alert.

"We all need to be vigilant," said the agency's Brian Vinall.

The Environment Agency, Met Office, emergency services and council planners will be constantly assessing the tidal and storm situation throughout Thursday evening and Friday morning.


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