Storm-hit villagers in Hemsby left stranded as Norfolk coastal road collapses into sea

Rob Setchell reports as high tide approaches at Hemsby

Terrified residents witnessed the moment a coastal road collapsed, leaving people stranded in their homes and children unable to go to school.

The access road to the Marrams estate in Hemsby on the Norfolk coast disappeared in a matter of minutes as the battered coastal village suffered yet more erosion in stormy conditions, witnesses told ITV News Anglia.

As conditions worsened on Friday evening, residents were advised to start moving their cars off the estate, using the only access road.

One man, who had been helping to move people off the site, used the road just moments before it collapsed.

Simon Measures, who lives on the Marrams and chairs the group Save Hemsby Coastline, said: "We were told by the lifeboat people that it was probably best to move our cars off the Marrams.

"By the time I'd been to far end to pick up one of our more vulnerable residents and given him a lift down with his car, within a few minutes it had just gone.

"It didn't crack, it just collapsed in its entirety."

The road was the only access for vehicles to the Marrams estate Credit: ITV News Anglia

Pictures show just how quickly the 200 metres of road crumbled, with large chunks strewn across the shoreline.

Mr Measures described his fear at realising he could have been injured.

"That moment was just almost terror, because I knew I'd been on that road in my car, just 10 minutes before it went. Just walking back and it not being there was like those cut bits in films - something is there, and then it's not.

"There was no warning for it, it just went."

Some residents who spoke to ITV News Anglia are now stranded in their homes, unable to get their vehicles out before the road collapsed.

Marie Howlett, who lives in Hemsby, said: "[It's] scary. Terrified actually of what’s gonna happen next or where we’re going to go or what we’re going to do."

She described being unable to get her daughter to school because of mobility issues.

"I can’t even get her to school because I can’t get her out. I’ve got a mobility scooter but I can’t get anywhere. I’m terrified of what’s going to happen next.

"We haven't got a backup plan, we haven't got anywhere to go, so basically we have to rely on the council or some help. We haven't got nothing."

Meanwhile, seal pups torn away from their parents by Friday's high tide lay stranded on the beach.

In Suffolk a suspected unexploded bomb was discovered on a beach near an East Suffolk holiday park after high tides and winds caused sections of cliff edges to collapse.

Several people had to be evacuated from their caravans at Pakefield Holiday Park in Arbor Lane overnight after a section of road fell onto the beach below – leaving some dangerously close to the cliff edge.

The device was later found by a member of the public on the base of the cliff, on the same stretch of beach, at around 12.20pm on Saturday.

HM Coastguard teams were sent to help East Suffolk Council and Suffolk Police – setting up a 100-metre exclusion zone

Clive Crossley, who lives in Pakefield said: “In front of our house we’ve probably lost about five metres in one night… unprecedented.”

Hemsby has lost six homes this year - demolished before they could be claimed by the sea.

Residents say the stress of living on one of Europe’s fastest eroding coastlines growing with every tide.

Mr Measures said: “It’s a constant, constant dread. We don’t sleep very well at night. We’re always worried about that next wave that’s gonna hit.

"That bit of noise... that’s more of the dunes going. And the big worry we all have is that one day we’re gonna sit up and someone from the council will be banging on our door saying get out.

"At that point we’re all homeless.”