Storm's fury hits Herne Bay in 1953
Children sort out
belongings salvaged from their flood damaged homes in Beach Street,
The full fury of the storm which had already devastated towns
all along the east coast of Britain hit Herne Bay in the early
hours of Sunday, February 1, 1953.
Asphalt was torn from the Neptune Jetty, concrete slabs torn
from the sea wall and 400 buildings flooded.
The devastation amazed residents, many of whom were completely
unaware of the scale of the damage until the days that followed
when the bill was estimated at £250,000.
A heavy gale had been building during the day on Saturday,
January 31, and by 10pm policemen were patrolling the streets
warning householders of the impending floods.
Basements were stripped of their contents and children, invalids
and sick people were taken to the safety of upper storeys.
A reporter for the Herne Bay Press wrote: "The scene on the
seafront is one which almost baffles description.
"Immense waves rolling in, lashed by the North Westerly gale,
struck the sea wall with the noise of heavy artillery and flung
water scores of feet into the air.
"Caught by the wind, the spray dashed almost horizontally across the promenade, carrying with it pebbles which came almost with the force of bullets" – the Herne Bay Press
"Caught by the wind,
the spray dashed almost horizontally across the promenade, carrying
with it pebbles which came almost with the force of bullets."
The only serious casualty in the town was Mrs Rocket, wife of
photographer Mr A.T. Rocket.
She cut her leg helping her husband save some of his equipment
from the basement of Tower Studios in Central Parade and required
As the mop-up work began there was still a fear of further
flooding and the realisation that the tragedy could have been much
The Herne Bay Press reported: "But for the timely warning there
is very little doubt that many would have been trapped in the
basements of houses with results too horrible to contemplate."
Teams were brought in from outside the area to help the
clean-up, clearing drains and sewers.
Mechanical grabs were used to move the huge amount of shingle
washed up on the promenade, and 16 parties of men working in pairs
cleared silt and started on the flooded homes.
Three Royal Air Force pre-driers were brought in to dry damp
rooms and an organization was set up at Herne Hospital to help the
drying of bedclothes.
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