High tides raise anxiety levels for owners whose homes hang over cliffs

Coastal erosion is devastating homes on The Marrams in Hemsby as they now are on the cliff edge. Pau

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 BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Every high tide is proving a nerve-wracking time for the owners of 13 homes at Hemsby.

Two of the properties have been left overhanging the cliff edge following severe erosion over the weekend as the sea, fuelled by fierce east winds, battered the Norfolk coast.

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

Crew members from Hemsby Lifeboat were late yesterday still removing possessions from the properties.

Chris Batten, secretary of Hemsby Lifeboat, said: “We’re doing it rather than the residents because the chalets are unsafe so we’re going to use rope access.

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“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.

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“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.”

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: “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.

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.”

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