'Heartbreaking' scenes as work starts to demolish cliff-top homes at Hemsby in Norfolk

  • Watch the first home being demolished

Work to demolish homes at risk of falling into the sea has started after a combination of strong winds and high tides left properties perilously close to the cliff edge.

Residents living in wooden bungalows in the Norfolk village of Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth, took the advice to evacuate their homes on Friday following devastating coastal erosion.

Following assessment work, council teams then identified three properties that needed to be taken down immediately before they fell onto the beach below.

The first of those was demolished on Saturday afternoon, much to the heartbreak of owner Sue.

  • Sue talks to ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward about losing her home

Sue, who didn't want to give her surname, had lived in her bungalow on the sandy cliffs for two years, but like her neighbours, spent Saturday morning gathering her belongings before demolition teams moved in.

Speaking to ITV News Anglia, she described losing her home as "totally devastating".

"It's all my hopes and dreams gone really, it was a beautiful place to me," she said.

"I'm very sad. It's heartbreaking. I knew this day would come but this was really rapid erosion. I think everybody along here is still in shock that we're actually been forced to do this."

The access road to those living in The Marrams has been cordoned off. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Demolition work got underway on Saturday after another high tide on Friday night caused further damage.

Several outbuildings were lost to the sea and the only access road to properties in the Marrams area of the village has been cordoned off due to fears that it could soon collapse.

Lifeboats crews also helped to rescue two chickens from a shed as they once again worked round the clock to help those in need.

Hemsby Lifeboat coxswain, Daniel Hurd. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It's been crazy. I got home at 3am on Saturday morning and then I was back down here at 6.15am so I've not had a lot of sleep," Dan Hurd, coxswain with the lifeboat crew, told ITV News Anglia.

"My crew are completely knackered. Just seeing people's homes disappear, it's heartbreaking. Some of them are suffering with illnesses, some are disabled, not knowing where they're going next. They're probably going to be around watching their homes get demolished - there's nothing worse than that."

Great Yarmouth Borough Council are now in the process of sourcing some rock which will be put on the beach as a "temporary solution."

The granite is due to arrive early next week, and although that news was welcomed by Mr Hurd, he said that action should have been taken earlier.

"This has been an emergency for years, why was this not called years ago?

"It's great that they're bringing rock in, that's what we want, but why could this have not been sorted earlier?

"We need help from the government. We need the money to protect this coastline and to protect tourism. If we haven't got tourism, you might as well just say that Hemsby is finished."

High tides caused huge damage to the sandy cliffs on Friday. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Demolition teams were initially expected to take down all three properties on Saturday, but the remaining two are now likely to be removed on Sunday instead.

Jane Beck, head of property and asset management at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said she had "huge sympathy" for the homeowners affected.

"It's so, so difficult. We totally appreciate how difficult the circumstances are and we want to work with those owners as much as we possibly can to support them through this process," she said.

Ms Beck also pleaded with people to stay away from the area with the threat of debris falling onto the beach below still a very real danger.

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