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Waiting game for Hemsby homeowners ahead of “even higher tide”

PUBLISHED: 17:16 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:47 20 March 2018

Bungalows in Hemsby hang precariously close to the edge of the sandy cliff along the beach Photo: BlueSkyUAV

Bungalows in Hemsby hang precariously close to the edge of the sandy cliff along the beach Photo: BlueSkyUAV

BlueSkyUAV

The residents of the Marrams in Hemsby have a nervous wait ahead with high tides forecast for this evening.

Coastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Picture: Nick ButcherCoastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Picture: Nick Butcher

A total of thirteen homes are at risk as a result of severe erosion over the weekend, two of which are overhanging the cliff edge.

The residents of all of the houses have been safely accommodated, but three have yet to be cleared of belongings.

Crew members from Hemsby Lifeboat are still evacuating possessions from the properties.

Chris Batten, secretary of Hemsby Lifeboat, said: “We’ve got two more chalets to evacuate of personal belongings.

Coastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Paul Ray moves possesions out from his home. Picture: Nick ButcherCoastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Paul Ray moves possesions out from his home. Picture: Nick Butcher

“We’re doing it rather than the residents because the chalets are unsafe so we’re going to use rope access.

We have one member of crew tied up with a safety line and another member of crew holding it at the other end.

“We’ll do our best to clear as much from the rooms as possible and a local removal firm is going to take it away and store it.

“There is a third property that needs its contents evacuating but we have to take a view on that because it is overhanging by quite a bit. We’re just waiting for confirmation on how exposed it is.”

Coastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Paul Ray moves possesions out from his home. Picture: Nick ButcherCoastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Paul Ray moves possesions out from his home. Picture: Nick Butcher

A further powerful high tide is expected at around 8.30pm this evening and Mr Batten said that once the final properties had been emptied it would become a waiting game.

He said: “Now it’s a matter of sitting tight for tonight because tonight is an even higher tide, so it will be a bit of a challenge as well.

A resident of one of the evacuated homes, who wished to remain anonymous, said the help from the lifeboat and RHT Removals had been “empathetic” and “absolutely amazing”, however, he questioned whether government resources could be better spent.

He said: “There have been a lot of resources put into the response, including helicopters, and I do wonder how much all of this cost and whether that money could have been spent on sea defences.

Coastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Picture: Nick ButcherCoastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Picture: Nick Butcher

“I thought in five years’ time a solution would have been found.”

The properties are yet to be officially condemned but the outlook seems bleak for homeowners, with a structural engineer declaring the homes unsafe.

As well as tonight there are warnings the bad weather will continue for another 48 hours.

Jan Davies, Head of Resilience for Norfolk County Council, said: “Further high tides and strong winds are forecast for at least the next 48 hours.

“As the sand dries out and becomes more powdery, over the next week the dunes will start to settle and adjust, meaning the risk of properties sliding down the cliffs remains very high.”

The ongoing incident has seen borough council officers and elected councillors in the village over the weekend.

The Council’s Chief Executive officer, Sheila Oxtoby, visited the village this morning and council officers are visiting residents who have been evacuated to make sure they are kept up to date with the changing situation and discuss emergency housing options so that suitable accommodation can be found for those who are unable to re-enter their properties.

Coastal Protection and Resilience Officers have also been on site today, further assessing the damage together with Building Control Surveyors and Environmental Services Officers who are monitoring the area. The police are also still at the scene. Council officers are in discussion with local land and beach owners, The Watling Trust, to ensure safety at the site.

Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “This has been a frightening weekend for the residents of Hemsby, who have pulled together once again to help their friends and neighbours to evacuate their properties.

“We have tried and tested plans in place for emergencies such as these, which means people can be evacuated quickly and we can make sure that there is food and shelter for those who need it. Huge thanks must also go to local people and local businesses who have offered food, accommodation, removal services and safe havens for those who have had to leave their homes.

“At this time, we ask that everyone, other than the emergency services and council officers monitoring the site, stay away from The Marrams, both beachside and land side. The area is extremely dangerous, and the conditions are changing every hour as we continue to have strong winds and high tides.

“The council would like to thank and commend all partners and agencies, especially the Hemsby Inshore Rescue Team. who have provided exceptional support during this challenging time.”

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