As world leaders meet in Copenhagen to try to make a deal to prevent further global warming, why should East Anglians be concerned? Because what happened in 1953 could happen again.
In 1953 I lived on the North West coast of England, and I didn’t hear about the floods in East Anglia. I didn’t hear of them for several years after I moved here, until I became a funeral celebrant. Then I heard stories from people who were affected by the North Sea surge. 307 people were drowned, some as they slept. Hundreds of animals were lost.
In 1953, communications weren’t as good as today. The first story I heard about the flood was about a man whose parents had a small general store on the Tendring peninsula coast. He heard that there was a danger of flooding and phoned them to tell them to move onto higher ground. Thinking that they had plenty of time, they started moving their stock onto the highest shelves, and were caught by the rising water before they could escape. When their son arrived, a day or so later, he found them both lying face down in the water, drowned. He never recovered from the shock, his wife said, and was terrified of water for the rest of his life. At his funeral, some of his colleagues said they’d never understood, until then, why he wouldn’t go swimming.