Young people most likely to take deadly risks in a flood

Thousands were evacuated from their homes and power was lost in many parts of the region during the 2013 storm surge.

At the start of December five years ago the East of England was bracing itself for one of the biggest tidal surges in decades.

The storm surge of 2013 devastated coastal communities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex - flooding businesses, sweeping whole homes into the sea and leaving our local councils with repair bills of millions of pounds. It was the biggest tide since the deadly surge of 1953.

The 1953 surge caused devastation. Credit: East Anglian Film Archive
Flooding in the town centre of Lowestoft during the storm surge of December 2013. Credit: Paul Nichols

But even as the waves were battering our coast, the Environment Agency had to send out warnings to so-called "flood tourists" who were putting themselves in danger by driving through the floods or even taking pictures of the damage. It is a warning they are repeating five years on.

Already in Norfolk this year firefighters have had to rescue 10 people from flooding incidents, including five people trapped in their vehicles. Three of these occurred at Welney.

Around 1,000 people are rescued from flood waters every year with around 170 rescued from inside or on top of a vehicle.

Driving through flood water is the number one cause of death during flooding, with storm selfies and wave watching also recorded as causes of death.

According to the Environment Agency and National Fire Chiefs Council 18 - 34 year olds are most likely to take life endangering risks during a flood.

Damage caused to the Norfolk coast.

According to Home Office statistics, Fire and Rescue Services in England attended around 15,000 flood related incidents in 2016/17, and rescued or evacuated around 1,000 people from flood waters. On average around 170 people a year are rescued from inside or on top of a vehicle surrounded by water.

Norfolk's Chief Fire Officer David Ashworth said flooding presents a "significant risk to the communities of Norfolk".

He said: "This year Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has rescued 10 people from flooding incidents. This compares with a total of 15 for the previous year (17/18).

"All too regularly drivers either don't appreciate the wading limitations of their vehicles or are prepared to take a chance and attempt to drive through the flood water. This results in an emergency response by our crews.

The A1101 at Welney is prone to winter flooding - seen here in 2008.

"It is important that advice provided by the Environment Agency and Norfolk County Council is heeded and people don't put themselves at risk. All too regularly we attend incidents where there is a history of flooding for example at Welney in West Norfolk where the road is submerged for much of the winter yet a minority of motorists still ignore the warning signs and diversion routes."

To find out more about what to do in a flood visit what to do in a flood on