2013 Storm Surge: The Walcott warriors who battled to save their coastal village

  • ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura speaks to people in Walcott who pulled together to save their community during the 2013 storm surge

It was the worst tidal surge this remote seaside village had seen in 60 years.

Homes and businesses were shredded, and people were left homeless, as the North Sea flexed its muscles off the coast of Walcott in North Norfolk.

As the emergency services worked tirelessly to save the village from the waves, members of the community pulled together to help each other.

One of those 'Walcott warriors' was Steve Bullimore, the owner and former landlord of The Lighthouse Inn.

Steve Bullimore opened up his pub to residents who had nowhere to go. Credit: ITV Anglia

His pub was used an an evacuation centre, where residents took refuge for the night, not knowing the fate of their vulnerable homes.

"I know the seafront, but I can't imagine what some of them went through," Mr Bullimore told ITV News Anglia, 10 years on.

"The pub is the heart of the community. It's important that it is here for the village and it was good that it was used for what it is here for."

Pauline Porter was nicknamed 'Walcott's Wonderwoman', after working through the night to find residents emergency accommodation and get the community back on its feet.

"I don't think we were heroes," Mrs Porter told ITV News Anglia.

"It was like a war zone. Everything was upside down. You can't imagine what it was like. We stepped up and did what had to be done. We were all in a mess. It is human nature that you all come together and help."

Pauline Porter was honoured for her work in the community. Credit: ITV Anglia

Over the last 10 years, residents on the seafront have installed flood gates and concrete walls to protect their homes from future storms.

In 2019, a sandscaping project from Walcott to Bacton raised the beach by up to seven metres to protect against coastal erosion.

The £20m project was a first for the UK, moving sand from the seabed to the shoreline, in the hope it would "provide 15-20 years of protection".

The storm brought water more than a metre and a half inland. Credit: ITV Anglia

Ahead of the 2013 surge, around 34 severe flood warnings were issued across the region, which gave some people the precious time to prepare for the storm.

But despite the warnings, few will forget the impact.

Coastguards up and down the East coast were facing treacherous conditions during the night of 5 December 2013.

Former coastguard Tony Garbutt was responsible for preparing rescue teams for the tidal surge and escorting people from their houses to safety.

His teams and volunteers were out in the dark, battling the elements for 24 hours.

"My biggest fear was being able to keep on top of a moving situation so it wasn't like rushing to a warehouse fire where the warehouse was never going to move", Mr Garbutt said.

"I was having to follow the devastation down the coast and try to keep ahead of that.

"The one that struck me the most is that as an island nation, the one thing we are good at is that when it does hit the fan, we are very good at dealing with it."

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