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People in village hit by sandstorm praised for resilience

PUBLISHED: 16:19 27 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 28 September 2020

Member of Parliament for north Norfolk, Duncan Baker and chairwoman of Walcott Parish Council, Pauline Porter. Picture: Duncan Baker

Member of Parliament for north Norfolk, Duncan Baker and chairwoman of Walcott Parish Council, Pauline Porter. Picture: Duncan Baker

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A community which was rocked by swathes of power cuts and a sandstorm which covered cars and properties have been praised for their resilience.

Sand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail NicholsonSand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

A community which was rocked by swathes of power cuts and a sandstorm which covered cars and properties have been praised for their resilience.

Norfolk was battered by gusts of more than 70mph as a northerly wind and heavy rain blew through the region this weekend.

An inspector at Norfolk Constabulary said that around 220 trees were brought down during the early hours of Saturday, September 26 by the stormy weather, with the North Walsham area among the worst hit in the county.

However in Walcott residents were left shovelling away “tonnes” of sand from their homes, cars and streets.

A blanket sand covered much of Walcott seafront after high winds. Credit: Karen BethellA blanket sand covered much of Walcott seafront after high winds. Credit: Karen Bethell

The high winds had created dunes in the village, leaving some residents stuck inside their homes.

Sarah Bütikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council visited the village on Saturday and said: “I was shocked to see the amount of sand that had come over in Walcott and the amount of damage we saw in north Norfolk over the weekend.

Sand covers the village of Walcott after high winds. Credit: Karen Bethell.Sand covers the village of Walcott after high winds. Credit: Karen Bethell.

“With the sand itself, obviously it’s really disruptive for people that live in that area and an issue for them, on the other hand had this been a week earlier we would have faced those winds with spring tides and we would have had devastating flooding.

“As the people of Walcott have said, yes I appreciate the sand is not the best situation for them but the alternative would have been far, far worse.

People in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering their whole village. Picture:Abigail NicholsonPeople in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering their whole village. Picture:Abigail Nicholson

“Our emergency services, highways and UK Power Networks were out in huge winds trying to reconnect people and did a brilliant job.”

The landlord of the Poachers Pocket pub, Caroline Stubbs, said she had “never seen anything like it” in her 16 years as landlord.

People in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering their whole village. Picture:Abigail NicholsonPeople in Walcott and Bacton woke up on Saturday morning to piles of sand covering their whole village. Picture:Abigail Nicholson

She said: “We have spent the morning digging ourselves a path out of the pub so customers can get in.

“It has come through every nook and cranny of the building, I had to get a locksmith to come out as I couldn’t get my key into the door because of a build up of sand.”

Sand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail NicholsonSand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

Another resident said: “The sandscaping project is the reason why this has happened but I can’t help but think what would have happened if the extra sand wasn’t there.

“It’s easier to remove sand. I know that people’s cars may still be damaged but at least it’s not the inside of homes.”

Walcott was hit with 70mph winds over the weekend. Picture: Abigail NicholsonWalcott was hit with 70mph winds over the weekend. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

About 1.8m cubic metres of sand was pumped onto the beach in front of the Bacton Gas Terminal and the villages of Bacton and Walcott in 2019 as part of a new Sandscaping Project.

The idea for the project originated following the devastation caused by the 2013 tidal storm surge, when hundreds of homes were flooded.

Sand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail NicholsonSand left on the pavement after 70mph winds hit Walcott over the weekend. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

But while the impact of the sandstorm is yet to be calculated, residents have already insisted it is better than finding their homes flooded.

Pauline Porter, chairman of Walcott Parish Council, said: “The sand is far superior than water and flooding, it’s not nice but it is far better than sofas floating in a field.

“If the sand hadn’t have been there, none of us would be in our homes right now, we would be in a hotel waiting for our homes to be cleared of flood water.

“We can do this, we have done it before and we will get through it again.”

Duncan Baker, the Member of Parliament for north Norfolk also visited the village on Sunday and said the resident’s attitude was “remarkable”.

He said: “It was heartbreaking to see a couple of those houses when you just enter Walcott that are covered in sand and I hope they can be helped in some way.

“I think large parts will be able to be tidied up reasonably quickly. We should be able to flush through the drainage systems so they’re not clogged up quickly so within a few weeks Walcott will be looking a lot better than it currently is.

“I think the most positive thing is that people were so resilient and in a sense, pleased that it was not flooding which was remarkable.

“We are seeing such good community spirit where people help one and other out.”

Norfolk County Council will visit the village on Monday to assess the damage.


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