Felixstowe: Resort to honour 41 killed in floods

TWO special events will be held next year to mark the 60th anniversary of the east coast floods and remember the 41 people who lost their lives at Felixstowe.

It will forever be remembered as the night of terror when a North Sea surge flooded the Orwell estuary, sending water smashing through the river walls and a torrent sweeping across Trimley Marshes and through where the port now stands into the resort’s low-lying West End.

It created a scene of devastation with Langer Road left more than 6ft deep in water. Of the 41 who died, 13 were children, and the toll included whole families.

There had been no warning of the floods about to hit – there were no emergency warning systems, or the pinpoint accuracy of the weather warnings or the modern communications we enjoy today.

One minute people were enjoying the evening together, the next their homes were flooded.

Coastal defence experts feel confident the tragedy would not be repeated today, with the resort protected by modern sea defences higher than the 1953 surge levels.

Residents say the floods though should never be forgotten and with the 60th anniversary looming, two special events are being planned to mark the occasion and remember the 41 people who lost their lives.

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Ian Heeley, who looks after the flood memorial in Langer Road, is organising a commemoration at the memorial and a service of remembrance at Felixstowe Salvation Army.

“This was the biggest disaster to ever hit our town and we should never forget those who were caught up in the tragedy and especially those who died,” he said.

“It was a night of terror – not something we can really ever imagine.

“I have spoken to many of the survivors over the years and their stories are harrowing – it was frightening, confusing and heartbreaking: people lost children, whole families, friends and neighbours.

“Sixty years is a big milestone and I really felt we should do something special. We have lost a number of people since the 50th anniversary – our oldest survivor is now 100 and the youngest 63 – and it is right that we remember those people who were part of our town.”

On January 31 at 3pm it is planned to have a commemoration at the flood memorial with the laying of floral tributes, and then on February 2 at 7pm the service at the Salvation Army when around 240 people are expected to take part to honour those who died.