Mersea Island: 10 people rescued from flooded access road

Causeway rescue drama

TEN people were rescued after their vehicles became stuck during high tide on a causeway at Mersea Island.

The drama unfolded yesterday afternoon when an elderly woman stranded on the raised roadway, known as The Strood, got out of her car and was swept away by the rising water.

A nearby recovery truck drove on to the flooded road and the driver managed to pull the woman to safety and call for an ambulance.

But within half an hour, coastguards were called to the scene after seven other vehicles also became trapped.

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West Mersea Coastguard Rescue Team and the West Mersea RNLI inshore lifeboat helped recover the stranded people, including a toddler.

Thames Coastguard has to deal with about a dozen similar incidents a year at The Strood, but according to watch officer Dave Moore, yesterday’s drama was one of the worst.

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Speaking after the rescue last night, he said an unusual confluence of tidal and weather conditions had added to the situation. But he said most incidents at the notorious spot were caused by people “taking chances”.

He said: “The woman got out of her car and then fell over because the strength of the sea knocked her off her feet. People don’t seem to realise the strength of the water flowing through there until they are faced with it. The event today was unusual in the number of people who subsequently became stranded.

“The problem is that it only takes one vehicle to break down and become immobilised for everyone coming after that to become stuck as well, and that’s what happened today.”

Mr Moore implored motorists not to attempt crossing the causeway if there was any water at all on the road.

He added: “People don’t seem to be prepared to change their plans to suit the conditions.

“Even while we had coastguards on the island trying to help with the rescue, members of the public were so impatient that they were still coming up and asking when they could drive across.

“People don’t allow for the fact the force of the sea water will push a car off the side of the causeway.”

Thames Coastguard watch manager Aimee Rampton warned people not to attempt crossing The Strood causeway during highwater spring tides, adding: “It is highly likely that the road will be covered with sea water and with extremely strong undercurrents.

“In this incident people were very lucky as there were no injuries.”

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