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Hemsby cliff-top homes 'perilously close' to edge


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Media captionCliff-top homes at Hemsby could fall into the sea, police have warned

Residents of 10 seaside chalets “perilously close” to the edge of cliffs have been evacuated as high winds and waves threaten their homes.

Norfolk Police said earlier that six of the properties at Hemsby had “a very good chance” of going into the sea.

In 2013, tidal storms saw three homes in the village washed away.

Hemsby Lifeboat warned high tides due on Saturday evening and easterly 48mph (77km/h) gusts could do similar damage.

BBC reporter Robby West at the scene said police had closed part of the coast road and the exposed foundations of one property, previously metres from the cliff top, could be seen.

Norfolk Police and the parish council have been advising people to keep away from the beach and the dunes.

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Mike Page

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An aerial picture shows just how close one chalet was to the cliff-top ahead of Saturday’s high winds

Officers had earlier warned residents of the 10 occupied properties, telling them to pack a bag in case they had to leave at short notice.

Lifeboat crew members have been going door-to-door, warning them to leave.

A village hall has been prepared for residents to spend the night in.

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Hemsby Lifeboat

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This chalet was just a few feet from the cliff edge on Saturday morning

There were Force Eight gales (39-46mph, 62-74km/h) at Hemsby on Saturday afternoon, said BBC Weather presenter Elizabeth Rizzini.

Sgt Ben Millican of Norfolk Police said 13 properties in total were at risk, 10 of them occupied.

“Six of them have got a very good chance of going into the sea if the weather conditions stay as they are with the high tides coming back in the evening,” he said.

At the scene: BBC reporter Robby West

A UK Power Networks team is disconnecting power to the homes and lifeboat crews are helping people evacuate.

They believe five homes are at risk, but the harsh winds are making everyone’s jobs harder.

The Hemsby Lifeboat team have told me waves are breaking halfway up the dune, causing sand to be washed away.

They believe it’s a matter of “when” for some of the properties, not “if”.

Maurice Broom, who lives in one of the threatened properties, said: “I had 90 metres between me and the sea when I first came here only two years ago, and now I’ve only got nine feet.”

But he said he intended to stay overnight to look after his pets.

In the 2013 tidal surge, seven homes were badly damaged, including three that fell into the sea.

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Emergency services were at the scene in Hemsby as waves continued to lash the cliffs

In 2014 villagers put in a £2.3m bid to the government for flood defences but failed to secure funding after being told by the Coastal Communities Fund that other applications “offered us a stronger fit”.

But by June 2015 partial sea defences of honeycombed-shaped concrete blocks were put into the dunes after residents raised £70,000, with Norfolk County Council providing a further £50,000.

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Strong easterly winds have whipped up powerful waves at Hemsby

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Ray Mooney’s house was left teetering on the cliff edge in the storms of 2013


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