|Many hectares of farmland were inundated by the sea|
As we all probably know, the worst tidal surge in 60 years occurred between the 5th and 7th of December 2013. Flooding and coastal erosion occurred down the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent and along the north coast of Wales. In some places the waters rose even higher than those seen during the devastating floods of January 1953 (when 307 people lost their lives in England) and the Thames Barrier recorded the highest tide since its construction in 1984.
Although Government officials said that improved flood defences had generally held up well and obviously, when compared to 1953 they did, that was however not always the case. Seven cliff-top homes collapsed into the sea at Hemsby in Norfolk, where a lifeboat station was also washed away. The Environment Agency reported that the surge resulted in the flooding of around 1,400 properties, with 18,000 people evacuated and 232 Flood Warnings and 71 severe flood warnings issued.
Official estimates have not yet been provided for the area of agricultural land flooded, however it is thought to be in excess of 2,000 ha. Meanwhile a chicken farm on the outskirts of South Ferriby, a village in North Lincolnshire on the banks of the Humber estuary, confirmed that they had lost 700,000 chickens to drowning, when the farm was inundated by flood water.
Also, many nature reserves and coastal habitats have been badly affected such as at the RSPB Snettisham reserve in Norfolk, where the shingle beach had been completely stripped away and the two gravel pits, once separated by a causeway footpath, have been topped up with millions of gallons of seawater creating one massive lake.
Bird hides too have been badly affected at Snettisham, one having been shifted through 180 degrees and now tilts at a 45 degree angle, while another has completely disappeared! Meanwhile literally hundreds of seal pups, which are born at this time of year, were killed by the surge, leaving many beaches dotted with their small dead white corpses.
So, the aftermath of this particular storm will take a long time to recover from in many areas and it is once again a reminder to us all that, however powerful we think we are, nature still often has the upper hand if it chooses.