Local support 'a great consolation'

Damage in Bacton, Norfolk following tidal surge. Credit: Sean Cockrell

Families left homeless in Norfolk after last week's tidal surge have described how community support has helped them through the ordeal.

Villages along the Norfolk coast were among the worst hit as tides reached the highest levels on record.

In Walcott, near Cromer, many homes are still without power and a major clean-up operation is under way.

A row of five caravans along the seafront were destroyed when the waves hit on Thursday night.

Wesley Woods, 35, his partner Helen Robinson, 48, and their two children Phoebe, 13, and Rufus, nine, are among those left homeless.

"We have been living here for two years and had just finished working on the caravan, getting it how we wanted it. "Before we moved here we had been homeless after being made redundant and now it feels like we're back where we started. "The whole community has rallied around - there has even been a group on Facebook appealing for clothes because we've lost everything. "At the moment that feels like the only thing keeping us going. If we didn't have that it would be tempting to give up."

It is thought some 1,400 nationally were flooded.

Further down the coast in Hemsby, three cliff top bungalows were washed into the sea.

Elsewhere people spent the night in rescue centre, homes were left without power and roads were closed due to the floods.

The couple, who do not have a television and were not signed up for flood alerts, said they only had 10 minutes warning after a friend sent them a text messages.

Ms Robinson said: "We rushed back to the caravan but were told we needed to get out straight away.

"The water was advancing fast and I only had time to grab a pair of boots and a coat before we lost it all."

Their caravan - along with those of their neighbours - could not be insured.

"We came here when we had nothing," Ms Robinson said.

"We had no choice, this was our only way of getting our lives back on track.

"Now we're living in temporary accommodation, relying on local authority support and don't know what the future holds."

Their neighbours - a family of four, a pensioner, a man who is unemployed after an industrial accident and a retired couple who are currently out of the country - were similarly affected.

"Often these things hit the poorest and hurt people when they're at their most vulnerable," Mrs Robinson said.

"I just break down in tears whenever anybody shows any kindness.

"We've lost our home but this kind of support really is a great consolation."