‘Significant risk’ to people and property

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High winds battering the north east coastline could send a sea surge at high tide which threatens to flood large sections of the Kent coast tomorrow.

The warnings come amid fears the surge could be as high as that in 1953 which devastated parts of England’s east coast.

The Environment Agency and Met Office says there is “significant risk” of coastal flooding in the early hours of Friday morning - around 1am - and early on Friday afternoon, around 1pm.

A severe flood warning has been issued for Sandwich.

Other towns at high risk, which have received a flood alert, include Deal, Rochester, Strood, Sittingbourne and Faversham and low lying properties in Gravesend.

The Environment Agency and Met Office are forecasting that there is a significant risk to people and property as spring tides combine with a coastal surge and significant waves.

The Environment Agency is warning people in homes at risk of flooding along the coast to be prepared to take action if they receive a flood alert and warning message.

The Thames Barrier will close today at 10pm to protect London from a combined high tide and tidal surge in the Thames Estuary.

Andrew Pearce, the Environment Agency’s Kent and south London’s area manager, said: “Currently 1,300 properties and low areas of grazing marsh through the Medway Estuary and Swale are expected to be at risk from this coastal flood. But there is the risk that up to 3,000 properties could be affected and we advise people to keep a close eye on our website for the latest information.

“We are working closely with the Met Office, emergency services and our local authority partners to monitor the forecast, continue to warn people of the risks and prepare our response. Although the highest tides do not occur until Friday we wanted to alert people to the risk of possibly serious flooding early to allow them time to prepare.

“Impacts could include flooding coastal properties and communities. Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.

“We would like people to especially think about any vulnerable neighbours. If we do confirm the risk of flooding in their area tomorrow, please consider how you could help them to prepare for flooding as well.”

Emergency planners from the police, councils, Environment Agency and fire and rescue service are currently meeting and will be issuing updates.

People living in the affected areas should call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for the latest flood warnings in their area.

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