East Anglia on flood alert

EAST Anglia was on flood alert last night as northerly winds pushed high seas against the coast and up the river estuaries.Towns and villages on the East Anglian coast were braced for possible flooding as high tides were expected.

EAST Anglia was on flood alert last night as northerly winds pushed high seas against the coast and up the river estuaries.

Towns and villages on the East Anglian coast were braced for possible flooding as high tides were expected.

The Environment Agency issued flood warnings – alerting people to the likelihood of flooding - for large stretches of the region's coast.

Emergency services were on standby ready to react in the case of lives being at risk.

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A Flood Watch warning was issued for the coast from Shingle Street to and including Clacton, Ipswich and Felixstowe as last night's high tides approached.

A Flood Watch warning was issued to villages on the tidal River Waveney from Ellingham to Breydon Water. Places at risk were Shipmeadow, Geldeston and Beccles.

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The Environment Agency issued four flood warnings and six flood alerts for East Anglia yesterday.

But some hours after dark and despite heavy seas all along the coast, it appeared that the gales had not reached the strength forecast earlier in the day.

Rita Penman, Environment Agency spokeswoman, said last night that flood warnings had been issued for the River Waveney and other rivers in the Broads, including the Bure, Ant, Thurne and Yare.

A flood warning had also been issued for the stretch of coast between Winterton and Lowestoft.

"In these areas we are expecting there to be flooding of homes, businesses and roads," she said.

A lower category warning – called Flood Watch – was issued for the rest of the coastline from Cromer down to Felixstowe, where last night's high tide was at 21.50 hours. This is a warning of a "possibility" of flooding.

Freshwater habitat at the Dingle Marshes nature reserve, between Dunwich and Walberswick, was again hit by saltwater flooding yesterday morning but not to the extent experienced last week when the sea gouged out a 800-metre hole in the shingle bank sea defences.

Environment Agency bulldozers spent the weekend in very difficult conditions trying to shore up the sea defences as much as possible.

Adam Burrows, English Nature site manager for the National Nature Reserves at Walberswick, Westleton and Easton, near Southwold, said some freshwater wildlife habitat had been inundated with saltwater during yesterday morning's high tide.

The flooded areas included Corporation Marshes and Old Town Marshes at Walberswick.

"Large areas have been flooded but it has so far been kept out of the majority of the reedbed. Until it gets light it will be impossible to see the true picture.

"There is a very rough sea running off the coast but, while the wind is very strong, we don't appear to have got the snow and gales we were warned about," he said.

Freshwater reedbeds at Easton, Walberswick, Minsmere and Dunwich are used as feeding grounds by rare bitterns and other birds and conservationists fear food may be short next summer as a result of fish deaths.

Thousands of fish - rudd and other freshwater species - have already died in the dykes and reedbeds in the nature reserves.

A Flood Watch notice indicates flooding possible to homes and businesses, and people should be aware and prepared.

A Flood Warning notice indicates that flooding is expected to affect homes, businesses and main road, and people should act now. Severe Flood Warning means severe flooding is expected and there is imminent danger to life and property, and people should act now.

nSuffolk County Council was expected to grit roads last night and this morningas snow in case predicted snow fell.

It has insisted the gritting of roads does not make them ice-free and are urging drivers to take extra caution. The council grits priority one routes that include all A and B roads in the county.

The A11, A12 south of Ipswich, and the A14 trunk roads are managed by private consultants working on behalf of the Highways Agency.

Forecasters last night said snow could spread down from Scotland and the North East to eastern coastal counties and east Norfolk, east Suffolk.

A Highways Agency, spokesman said: "Drivers are advised to check for up-to-date information on weather before they set off, and during their journey."

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