NEW flood evacuation plans have been compiled for Pagham.
The emergency response documents provide grim reading for seafront residents who are at risk of seeing their homes flooded because of the erosion of their beach.
They include an advice note to residents which states: “We are advising that you vacate your property as soon as possible. Please take all possessions you need, including any medical requirements to the Pagham Village Hall.
“Arun District (sic) will help you find alternative temporary accommodation.”
The information has been revealed as the homeowners brace themselves to face the highest tides so far this year.
Between next Wednesday and Saturday, they will reach 6.4m and 6.3m every day. This is 50 per cent higher than today’s 4.2m.
Pagham Parish Council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall said he was alarmed to find out about the plans compiled by Arun District Council.
“It’s a little bit frightening to say the least that this has been going on for Pagham.
“It seems like they’re really expecting there to be lots of properties to be lost and lives at risk. It looks as if they think there is a serious problem,” he said.
“One of the plans talks about identifying elderly people so they can be given priority to get out. There is also a section about having to find boats to evacuate these people because the roads will be flooded.”
The plans also detail a chain of responsibility and communicating with the emergency services.
“This underlines the increasing risk we are facing,” said Cllr Radmall. “If the sea breaks through at Pagham Yacht Club and East Front Road, which is the prediction of the Environment Agency, we will have a significant problem on our hands.
“If we keep on having storms during March, I don’t think the sea defence work carried out by Arun will cope. The water is already outflanking the groynes as the erosion starts to move towards Aldwick.”
Cllr Radmall said the flooding would stretch hundreds of metres inland and was likely to worsen every high tide because the low-lying land would trap the water.
There are four plans in all. One lists Arun’s officers who would play a major role in the emergency.
It states its objective is to ‘develop and implement the response to an incident of coastal/beach erosion and/or flooding threatening properties and residents on Pagham Beach’.
An Arun spokesman said the council needed to ensure it was as fully prepared as possible for spring tides and poor weather.
“It is imperative these plans are up-to-date if they are to be useful. The spit is continuing to grow and, as a result, the area of erosion risk is shifting accordingly and the council will continue to ensure its plan is fit for purpose.”
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