Homes in Whitstable and Faversham evacuated after tidal surge predicted by Environment Agency sparked floods
Flood warnings remain in place across the district and in Faversham today, but water levels are not expected to rise as high as anticipated this afternoon.
When high tide hits at 2pm, water levels are expected to be about half a metre lower than those reached overnight, with a lower wind speed.
Council spokesman Celia Glynn-Williams says: "If this remains the case, we would not anticipate needing to evacuate Faversham Road in Seasalter."
Sea came over edge of quay in Whitstable Harbour
Dozens of homes were evacuated there and in Faversham throughout the night as the tidal surge sparked floods in the early hours of this morning.
Emergency rest centres were set up in both towns after people were warned to leave homes said to be at risk from the rising water.
But despite the Environment Agency forecasting the most serious tidal surge for 30 years, the east Kent coast appears to have escaped the carnage predicted.
Fishing vessels strain at their moorings as the tide rises in Whitstable harbour
Hide tide sweeps over Whitstable harbour
In Whitstable, people in 70 homes along Faversham Road, Seasalter, were advised to evacuate by Canterbury City Council, but only minor flooding was reported.
Celia Glynn-Williams continued: “The water level peaked in the Seasalter area at 2am, at a level of 4.1m. The previous record was 4.14m.
“There are no reports of any houses flooded, although some gardens appear to have some flooding.”
Sandbags against doors in Front Brents, Faversham
Belvedere Road was among those flooded in Faversham. Picture: Chris Davey
But the sea did rise over the quay’s edge in Whistable Harbour, flooding the harbour village and attracting a crowd of worried fishermen keen to avoid damage to their boats.
In Faversham, Swale Borough Council advised people in 200 homes to seek shelter elsewhere.
Shortly after midnight the creek water rose above its banks and flowed up against houses in Front Brents, many of which had been protected by sandbags.
The Front Brents in Faversham was also affected
Water levels in the creek spilled over into Standard Quay in Faversham. Picture: Chris Davey
Belvedere Road was flooded and many homes were hit by a power cut.
South Road, Brent Hill, Brent Road and North Lane were also closed by police as many streets surrounding the creek were affected.
But the scale of the flooding was perhaps reflected by the number of people seeking shelter at the rest centres.
Police shut many roads because of flooding
Just four people sought refuge at All Saints church hall in Whitstable – which closed at 3am - while only seven had arrived at West Faversham Community Centre when the high tide hit at about 2.30am.
Among them was Guy Widdowson, 32, his wife Julie, and their children Joshua, four, and three-month-old Isabella.
Health and safety inspector Mr Widdowson says they left their house in Cyprus Road, Faversham, at 12.15am after they were advised to by police.
Guy and Julie Widdowson with children Joshua and Isabella at an emergency centre
Council, Red Cross, St John's Ambulance and Oyster WI staff on hand at All Saints Church hall
He said: “We were actually in bed when they knocked on the door at 10.30pm and said we should evacuate.
“We sat and had a little think about it and thought it was probably for the best.
“We moved the TVs upstairs and made sure the Christmas presents were safe and then came down here. If it wasn’t for the kids, I don’t think we would have.”
Centre manager Amber Christou said an elderly couple were the first to arrive but they were put up in a hotel because of ill health.
She added: “It’s been quiet and we’ve only had seven in, but we’re fully prepared for any eventuality. The support we’ve had from other agencies has been brilliant.”
Flooding behind the Shepherd Neame brewery
High tide forced the closure of Herne Bay harbour
It is thought the high tide this afternoon could spark further flooding, with the rest centre in Whitstable reopening at 11am.
People who need urgent help are asked to call 999, or if they need advice from the council, to call 01227 655033.
For the latest updates, visit the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx or call their Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for the latest flood warnings.
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