Seaside villagers evacuated as storms and high tides bring flooding threat

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Residents of a village in Essex are being evacuated from their homes in the face of potential flooding due to severe weather, the fire service has said.

Police officers will be going house to house in Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea, on Thursday afternoon to warn people that a full evacuation plan is being implemented in the face of rain and high winds, which could lead to floods.

It comes as communities along the east coast of England are being warned of the risk of large waves and possible flooding as gale-force winds combine with high tides.

Officers will be informing residents that from 7am on Friday, they will be taken to a rest centre at Tendring which has been set up by the district council, where they and their pets can stay until it is safe to return.

They can also make their own way to the rest centre or seek shelter with friends or relatives outside the village.

Chief Inspector Russ Cole, district commander at Tendring, said: "Acting on all the professional guidance and experience of our colleagues at the Environment Agency and the Met Office, a partnership decision has been taken to evacuate the homes in Jaywick to ensure the safety of all residents.

"My officers will start calling at all residences in Jaywick from 4pm this afternoon, to advise them that from 7am tomorrow we will be transporting people out of the town to the rest centre.

"We will also advise that from 4pm they can of course self-evacuate and make their own way to the rest centre or to another place of safety at a friend or relative's home outside of Jaywick.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of all residents to ensure their safety until the severe weather passes."

Police will be patrolling the areas people have been evacuated from to ensure property left unattended is as secure as possible.

Residents were being advised to follow directions from officers, pack a bag of clothes and essential medical items for when they needed to leave home, store valuables and expensive items in higher areas in homes and contact friends or relatives to see if there is somewhere outside Jaywick to stay.

The Environment Agency has warned communities in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex they are particularly at risk from gale force winds combining with high tides to create large waves that could carry dangerous debris including rocks.

The conditions could also lead to traffic disruption and affect coastal properties, the agency said.

People are being urged to take extreme care near the coast and avoid walking along coastal paths and promenades if possible. Motorists should avoid driving through floodwater as just 30cm (1ft) of flowing water can move a car, the agency said.

Mark Sitton-Kent, national duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Gale force winds and high tides are likely to create large and dangerous waves along parts of the east coast on Friday and Saturday.

"These conditions could also cause flooding to coastal roads and could impact properties.

"We understand that powerful tides can be dramatic, but please do not put yourself at unnecessary risk by going to the coast for a thrill or to take pictures.

"We are prepared to take action wherever it is needed. We have moved resources and equipment to the coast and the Army is on standby to assist if needed."

Environment Agency teams have moved 5,200 metres of temporary barriers and 25 pumps to depots and towns including Newcastle upon Tyne, Blythe, Great Yarmouth, Chelmsford, Rye and Trustthorpe and South Ferriby in Lincolnshire.

The Hull tidal barrier will be operated on Thursday evening, while all east coast flood gates have been closed, the agency said.