Bridlington Harbour has experienced the worst flooding for “more than 50 years” after bad weather caused a tidal surge which submerged most of the harbour.
More than a metre of water on top of an already high 6.3m tide swept through the harbour at around 4pm and reached its peak before 6pm: flooding Rags, the Chicken Run, Gummers Wharf, shops on Harbour Road and Clough Hole car park.
Bad weather had been expected today after the Environment Agency issued a flood warning for the area, but the speed and severity of the tide overwhelmed businesses and onlookers and saw fishing gear and equipment floating in the harbour, a car submerged, and even a fire in a warehouse on the Chicken Run.
Chris Wright, chairman of the Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, said: “I have not seen it this bad more 30 odd years, more than that.
“We did not expect it to be this bad. The wind has been westerly, but going between a south-westerly and north-westerly all day. The wind died off but what has caused it is low pressure forcing the water in. It’s difficult to say what the damage will be.”
The high tide reached its peak just before 6pm, and water is beginning to move away again.
But it is unclear whether similar scenes will return at tomorrow morning’s high tide, expected at about 6.30am.
“It is difficult to say, if there are more northerly winds overnight then who knows,” continued Mr Wright.
Jo Ackers, of the Independent Shellfishermen’s Co-operative, saw her Gummers Wharf office flooded.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “We were down there at about 4pm and it was just coming into the office.
“Within 15 minutes, it was right inside and there is about three feet of water.
“I got the electrics off, but I will have lost a lot of paperwork, a lot of stock, and we had a bundle of the Fishermen’s charity calendars in warehouse six on the floor and they’ll be ruined as well.
“I’ve worked here for ten years. It feels like my home. We didn’t expect it to be this bad. We heard the warnings, but you hear that all the time and I think people maybe just didn’t believe how bad it would be. I had to tell everyone to get out of the office. My colleague said ‘I haven’t paid the lads’ wages yet! I’ll have to see what damage it does.”
Robert Briggs, 61, has been working on the harbour for around 50 years and said only a flood in 1977 came close to today’s events.
“I work offshore now so I’m not affected, but I’ve never seen it this high. It’s incredible. It was high in 1977, but this is a lot higher.”
Mark Plumstead, 34, has worked at the harbour for 24 years. He said his boat, the John Barry, had not been too badly affected but that he felt for those who had.
“It happened really quickly,” he said. “There’s fishing gear floating all over. If that can be found then it can be salvaged but people have fridges and electronics and they’ll be gone.”
Members of Bridlington’s Lifeboat crew took the inshore lifeboat into the harbour to try and clear debris and make checks of the area. It’s not thought that anyone was hurt.
Not long after they launched, an electrical fire flared in a warehouse at the Chicken Run, not long after lights and other electronics had blown.
The fire brigade were called, and coastguard and police were all on scene also.
It is difficult to assess the damage this evening, but business owners, fishermen and others who work at the harbour will face a big clean up operation when the water subsides tomorrow.
It followed a day of weather warnings across the region. The Environment Agency had warned that the worst of the tidal surges would occur in East Anglia, while Northern Lincolnshire and the Humber Estuary were also expected to be hit badly.
Whitby and Scarborough have also been hit by the weather, with businesses and streets flooded.
Keep checking the Free Press website for details.