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NEWS | ada gazette SPRING 2014 December Coastal Flooding

Between 5 December and 7 December 2013, the east of England experienced the most severe tidal surge that it has faced in 60 years. The Environment Agency (EA) has reported

that the surge resulted in 64 severe fl ood warnings issued, around 1,400 properties fl ooding and 18,000 people evacuated. Communities along the Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suff olk, Essex and Kent coast were most severely aff ected. Flooding was also experienced in Rhyl and Denbighshire in North Wales as well as parts of the north-west of England. Early unoffi cial estimates from the National Farmers Union suggest that in excess of 2,000ha of farmland was fl ooded, over 1,000ha of which was around the Humber Estuary and River Ouse. The reason for the surge can be att ributed to a

rising area of low pressure across the sea, taking pressure off the surface and allowing a bulge to form. The surge combining with strong winds, large waves and high astronomical tides led to record sea levels along many parts of the coast, higher in some places than those experienced during the devastating fl oods of January 1953. The Thames Barrier was closed twice during this event; at their peak water levels were measured at 4.1m Above Ordnance Datum at Southend in the Thames Estuary. In Hull sea levels peaked at a record of 5.8m. During the event, Dr Paul Leinster, Environment Agency Chief Executive said: “Our thoughts remain with those people who have been aff ected by fl ooding. The number of fl ood warnings is now reducing. However, Environment Agency teams remain on the ground to check fl ood risk management assets including barriers and to monitor sea levels. “...Flood risk management assets, including

the Thames and Hull Barriers, have protected thousands of homes and businesses from sea levels higher in some places than those that occurred during the devastating fl oods of 1953. “Advances in weather and fl ood forecasting

mean that early warnings of the tidal surge were given to emergency services, homes and businesses, allowing vital time to prepare.” The EA sent over 160,000 warnings

to homes and businesses. Over 2,800km of fl oodwalls, banks and other fl ood risk management assets along the English coast and estuaries have protected more than 800,000 properties from fl ooding. Without doubt the fl ooding has signifi cantly disrupted social and economic life, leaving hundreds of people facing a long period of recovery; however, the relatively low number of properties fl ooded has brought att ention to the tremendous work done by a wide range of organisations working in partnership, including the EA, IDBs, Local Authorities and emergency services.

10 IDB experiences

The December tidal surge saw IDBs on the east coast of England working throughout the day and night to minimise the eff ect of the surge. Below are some of their experiences:

North East Lindsey IDB In the North East Lindsey IDB, defences

between Barton and New Holland were overtopped resulting in some 30 properties being fl ooded. The Reeds Hotel at Barton was so severely damaged that the owners have entered into voluntary liquidation.


Board owns two pumping stations at New Holland, one outfall station on a bank of the Humber, and a main estate

station ,which drains an industrial area via a piped system, is situated some 400 metres inland. This station then discharges into an open drain which outfalls into the Humber either by gravity or the outfall pumping station. The tidal surge aff ected both stations, with the tide mark on the control cabinets at the outfall station one metre above the ground level (see above image). All the pumps at both stations were put out of action but the following day the Board managed, through rewiring, to get one pump operable and drain away tidal water from the fl ooded industrial area. The pump continued to operate whilst all others were taken out for repair.

In many places earth bank defences have

been washed away. The Board stressed to the Environment Agency the urgency of reinstating the banks before further high tides occurred. Further along the coast in Killingholme, Immingham and Grimsby the defences were not overtopped and no fl ooding occurred to the major industrial areas. There was however extensive fl ooding within Immingham Docks itself.

High tides on the Humber on 6 December (Environment Agency)

Lindsey Marsh Drainage Board There was a breach near Cleethorpes in a

bank known to contain badgers and the EA were made aware of this. There was fl ooding inside some coastal pumping stations at Saltfl eet and stations were shut down ahead of the surge to avoid damage to pumps and control panels. The offi ces were manned over the event and staff with pumps were sent to Boston to assist.

South Holderness IDB This area was signifi cantly aff ected during

the event in early December. The only actual breaches took place on the north bank of the Humber at Welwick and the surge pushed the

The Hull barrage was lowered during the tidal surge (Environment Agency)

Trevor Vessey

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