FLOOD water left thousands homeless, damaged homes and property and killed eight people in Harwich 65 years ago.

Essex was left in disarray on January 31, 1953, due to the devastating flooding which in total caused 104 people to tragically lose their lives.

The aftermath of the flooding was devastating for residents of Harwich with 3,000 left homeless and over 50,000 acres of farm land left submerged in water, with the majority of cattle and crops being lost.

The flooding happened as a result of high tides, storm surge, winds and large waves combining and ultimately leading to a breach of Essex sea walls in over 300 places.

According to the MET office, this meant that low-lying areas of East Anglia were left vulnerable and the Thames Estuary was in danger of severe flooding.

This was due to the extreme weather conditions and the inability to warn people in advance.

The flooding wreaked havoc across East Anglia with a total of 32,000 people being evacuated from their homes and infrastructures including power stations, gasworks, roads, railways, sewage services and water services all being forced out of action.

A total of 160,000 acres of land was inundated with sea water and was then left redundant from use for several years.

It is estimated that the total clean-up bill came to £50 million in 1953, which is about £1.2 billion in today’s financial climate.

But Harwich was able to come together in its time of need.

The staff at the Harwich Transit Camp brought dozens of boats to the flood water in order to transport hundreds of residents over to their camp where they fed evacuees and opened the dining hall as a clothing relief centre to offer some relief to those effected.

The greatest depth of water was recorded in Harwich, with an area of up to half a square mile flooded to a maximum of 15ft. At its worst the water reached 100 yards on the Dovercourt side of Harwich Police Station.

It flooded East Street and the lower part of Victoria Street, swept along Fernlea Road and Grafton Road.

It took a week for the water to subside and the majority of Harwich was cordoned off with barbed wire while the clean-up took place.