Burnham-On-Sea.com readers have got in touch with their memories of the dramatic 1981 storm which left a trail of damage across the town and a repair bill along Somerset’s coastline stretching to a huge £6 million.
Here, we publish a selection of readers’ memories…
Iris Rowe: “I was living in Adam Street and saw the sea water rushing down the centre of the road to Oxford Street.”
“The High Street and Oxford Street soon became impassable and we were cut off, but fortunately the water did not back up far enough to flood our house. The telephone soon failed and we were left with only Citizen Band (CB) radios with which to communicate.”
“Next day, numerous CB enthusiasts poured into the town and started filling sandbags. My son was amongst the group near the jetty where he helped to fill the enormous gap in the sea wall. At lunchtime, Arthur Duckett very kindly
organised and paid for his ‘crew’ to have lunch in the Queens Hotel. At Sea View Road CBer ‘Troubador’ spearheded another group of CBers into filling sandbags to fill the gaps in the sea wall at that end. Most of the CBers were personally unaffected by the flooding but they raced into town to help wherever they could. I can remember preparing many hundreds of sandwiches, at my own cost, for those working near Sea View Road.”
Tom Ashton: “In those days I worked at Lloyds bank’s Highbridge Branch. A customer called us to make an insurance claim following the storm after a dead cow had been deposited at the foot of his bed after coming through the first floor window of his home.”
“Separately, I had just constructed a greenhouse in my back garden at Coleridge Gardens and had lost a pain of glass worth £3 due to the storms. I was cursing my bad luck when my neighbour called to say he’d just seen a telegraph pole floating down the High Street.”
Ann Murray: “I was only three at the time of the floods but clearly remember my mother waking me up in a panic and telling me not to run downstairs – the entire ground floor of our Alstone Road house was flooded with dirty, stinking water. Our cat had to swim to the kitchen door and spent the next couple of weeks cowering under a bed.”
“I went into the front garden at one point (probably a very bad idea!) and saw my Uncle Keith wading down the road, dressed in full waterproofs and a sou’wester – a very frightening sight for a three year old! A lady opposite who wasn’t flooded made us a big pot full of stew and we had to eat it in the bedroom.”
“It was cold, of course, and everything was damp – very miserable! Our house was uninhabitable, and we had to move to my grandmothers in Balmoral Drive for some time, where I became terribly sick from the dirty water.”
“After the water subsided, we found that all the ground floor wiring was wrecked, the quarry tiles had lifted and there was a skin of sewage scum covering all our possessions. Everything had to be thrown away, which was very saddening for my parents.
“Even though I was so young I remember the flooding quite clearly. It may not have caused the devastation that we so regularly see on today’s TV news reports but it was certainly one of the worst things to happen in Burnham in living memory.”
Jacky Sealey: “I lived in Combwich at the time, and was Chairman of the Parish Council. High winds prevented the tide from coming in normally, then the wind suddenly changed direction, forcing a 4′ wall of water onto the coast. That water broke down the front doors and went out the back, taking everything that had been on floor level with it and totally submerging the ground floors of 12 homes in the village.”