Essex on flood alert after high tide

THE Essex coast was on flood alert last night after a freak tide engulfed a popular waterfront, completely swamping a number of cars.

By Annie Davidson

THE Essex coast was on flood alert last night after a freak tide engulfed a popular waterfront, completely swamping a number of cars.

The surge happened at Brightlingsea at around noon when a spring tide led to the sea rising over the town's hard and as far up as the Waterside fish and chip restaurant.

In Suffolk and Norfolk the tide breached sea walls and coastguards were warning last night that a further tidal surge was expected at about midnight.

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Environment Agency workers had been to Brightlingsea earlier in the day yesterday handing out sandbags to the fish and chip shop.

However predictions of an unusually high tide had not reached members of the Brentwood Sea Angling Club who had chartered a boat for a day's fishing yesterday.

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The three members who drove themselves and other members to meet the boat at 8am parked their cars next to the hard and were only told about the tidal surge when they were out at sea and it had already happened.

Club president Bob Price said: “We didn't know there was going to be an excessively high tide and left our cars here.

“The boat's skipper got a call from one of his colleagues and he asked where we had parked our cars and when we said 'along the front' he told us the water had come excessively high.”

Mr Price, of Billericay, said they decided to continue fishing because “you can't spoil a day's fishing that you've already paid for.”

He added: “What's done is done.”

Mr Price's Mitsubishi was awaiting pick-up from the AA and is believed to be written off after being swamped by sea water.

Paul Ashton, of east London, found his Nissan Almera in a similar condition after parking it next to Mr Price's car.

He said: “Normally I go in the car park but you pay for that and the others said it was free parking down here so I though 'that's handy.'

“I only had the car serviced last month and now it is written off.”

Another club member, Peter Sharp, of Dagenham, was surveying his Ford Focus which had also been flooded with sea water and would not start.

“When the boat skipper said the flood water had come up I knew it would be my car as it was the last in the queue,” said Mr Sharp, adding, “and I didn't even catch any fish.”

Emma Day, manager of the Waterside fish and chip restaurant, said Environment Agency officials had bought sandbags yesterday morning which has prevented the water coming in through the door nearest the hard.

She said: “Even up here it was about a foot deep.”

The freak tide was due to a combination of an astrological high tide, a surge along the North Sea and slightly windy conditions.

Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk were all the subject of flood watches last night which meant flooding of low lying land and roads was expected but was not as serious as a flood warning or a severe flood warning.

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