Homeowner's sleepless night as Storm Darcy devours 15ft of dunes

Lance Martin at the back of his home overlooking the defences that have fallen foul of the borough c

Lance Martin at the back of his home overlooking the defences that have fallen foul of the borough council Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

People are being warned to stay away from Hemsby dunes as Storm Darcy's fierce winds eroded 15ft of frontage from the cliff's last remaining home.

Lance Martin, 63, has been battling to save his house in Hemsby's The Marrams, years after dozens of others along the same stretch collapsed into the sea.

But winds on Sunday and Monday threatened to force his evacuation as waves "rolled straight over the top" of his two-tonne defence blocks, pushing the dune back by about 15ft.

rolled back dunes

The dunes by Lance Martin's home rolled back by 15 feet in one night after storm winds battered Norfolk's east coast - Credit: Lance Martin

dune erosion

The dunes by Lance Martin's home rolled back by 15 feet in one night after storm winds battered Norfolk's east coast - Credit: Lance Martin

rolledback dunes

The dunes at the next property along from Lance Martin's home, which was rolled back by 15 feet in one night after storm winds battered Norfolk's east coast. He said: "This is the view from the next plot to mine looking towards Scratby. Note the encroachment and the slumped dune before my blocks start." - Credit: Lance Martin

He said: "I didn't sleep until about 1.30am on Monday morning because of the stress, and was up again at 7am.

"There was a low tide but the wind behind it was driving it up over the blocks, and I was just sitting there watching parts of the dune crumble."

over topped sea defences

The waves overtopped the sea defences due to high winds on Sunday and Monday - Credit: Lance Martin

He added: "Luckily, we're safe at the moment, because we've still got 13m between our house and the bottom of the dune, but you just don't know what's going to happen next."

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Martin explained that winds had died down overnight - to the point where he "didn't need to wear his safety goggles".


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"The wind speed has significantly reduced today and I slept better last night," he said. "Without the wind we didn't get the sea driving into the face of the dunes as much."

Mr Martin added that while the defences had "done their job" in blunting the force of the waves, the latest weather events meant they now needed rearranging.

He said: "I'm happy with the defences as they are, I just need to get them back in position. That'll require machinery and manpower, which I don't have at the moment.

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"I do know if anything did happen I have so many neighbours I can seek refuge with. When we moved the house back in 2019 the community support we received was fantastic."

Former soldier Lance Martin is battling to save his Hemsby home. Eleven of his neighbours' chalets w

Former soldier Lance Martin for years has been battling to save his Hemsby home. Eleven of his neighbours' chalets were bulldozed in the wake of the Beast from the East making him the last man standing  - Credit: Archant

Hemsby councillor James Bensly said "evacuation plans" were in place should Mr Martin need it, but hoped the dune-dweller could continue living out his retirement dream for a while yet.

Further to our post regarding Hemsby Gap and the storm yesterday; Weather conditions continue to be challenging in the...

Posted by Hemsby Lifeboat on Monday, 8 February 2021

Although winds have now died down, Hemsby lifeboat coxswain Daniel Hurd closed the Beach Road car park yesterday to deter visitors while high tides and strong winds rendered the area "unsafe".

He said: "The car park remains closed today (Tuesday) because it's still dangerous out there. The risk of falling and flying debris is severe."

James Bensly. Picture: James Bensly

James Bensly, local councillor, said preparations were in place to evacuate Lance if need be - Credit: James Bensly


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