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Residents evacuated in Sandwich before for tidal surge hits.

05 December 2013
by Beth Robson

Helpers are protecting buildings with sandbags

A door-to-door evacuation of 178 properties is taking place in Sandwich.

Residents are filling sandbags and delivering them to neighbours and the elderly in a bid to keep people safe and protect buildings and belongings. 

Some have fled their homes in a bid to stay safe and dry - not knowing what they will return to tomorrow morning.

An emergency rest centre has been set up at Sandwich Leisure Centre, which is at higher ground than the first rest centre in the Guildhall. 

The action is being taken on the advice of the Environment Agency from 11pm this evening (Thursday) until 3am tomorrow morning. It will also take place at 1pm tomorrow.

Mercury reporter Beth Robson is at the scene. She said: "The community spirit is ringing through the town. 

"Teenagers are carrying sandbags over their shoulders and builders have been calling on elderly customers to make sure their homes are protected. 

"Some are struggling with trolleys full of wet and heavy sandbags to help their friends and neighbours."

Dover District Council spokesman Andy Steele said: "If you are not informed that you need to evacuate, then there is no need to do so at this stage. 

volunteers queued with their trolleys for more sandbags

People queue to collect sandbags in Sandwich town centre

"If you are asked to evacuate, please ensure your property is secure, including switching off any gas and electricity supply.  Please take any necessary items with you, including medication.

 A severe flood warning has been issued for coastal towns because of a mixture of spring tides and high winds due to hit through the night and at lunchtime tomorrow.

Deal's new flood defences are also going to be put to the test after the Environment Agency and Met office announced the town is also at high risk.

The Environment Agency and Met Office are forecasting that there is a significant risk to people and property as spring tides combine with a coastal surge and significant waves.

Andrew Pearce, the Environment Agency’s Kent and South London’s area manager, said: “Currently 1,300 properties and low areas of grazing marsh through the Medway Estuary and Swale are expected to be at risk from this coastal flood. But there is the risk that up to 3,000 properties could be affected and we advise people to keep a close eye on our website for the latest information.

Flood risk map

“We are working closely with the Met Office, emergency services and our local authority partners to monitor the forecast,

"Although the highest tides do not occur until Friday we wanted to alert people to the risk of possibly serious flooding early to allow them time to prepare.

“Impacts could include flooding to coastal properties and places like promenades and paths. 

“We would like people to especially think about any vulnerable neighbours. If we do confirm the risk of flooding in their area tomorrow, please consider how you could help them to prepare for flooding as well.”

Emergency Planners from the police, councils, Environment Agency and Fire and Rescue Service are currently meeting and will be issuing updates.

People living in the affected areas should call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for the latest flood warnings in their area. For advice on how to prepare for flooding, tune into local radio and TV stations and keep an eye on local weather conditions.

The Port of Dover says "appropriate action" will be taken for the safety of customers and staff.

A spokesman for the port said: “Last night, staff conducted a full scale inspection of the port estate in order to assess the potential impact of the predicted weather conditions on port operations and on neighbouring businesses and residences.

“The safety of customers, staff and the local community is paramount and the port will be taking the appropriate action to mitigate the effects of the weather as far as possible.

“The port advises ferry customers to contact their chosen ferry operator before travelling and to keep updated via our website and Twitter feeds.”

Click here for more news from Deal.

Click here for more news from around the county.

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