The reception and care of the flood victims was organised by Thurrock Urban District Council, assisted by the local Civil Defence Corps and voluntary organisations. Within a short space of time there were 1367 homeless in five County schools, 388 at Orsett Camp and 165 at the Bata Hotel, with smaller groups in local halls, clubs and clinics.
A man stands knee-deep in water outside his flooded home.
In Tilbury, work soon began on dealing with dislodged manhole covers and ensuring that no accidents were caused. However, while the manholes were drying out and telephone cables being checked for water damage, the next high tide occurred and re-flooded the area. Large sections of railway were under water and Tilbury Riverside Station remained inaccessible. The Marsh Farm sewage works was another problem, as it had not been functional since the flooding began and concerns were raised about the risk of diseases such as typhoid and dysentery being caught by the local population.
A campaign meeting to plan emergency works.
Emergency repairs to the sea walls took some weeks, but were considerably assisted by searchlights provided by the Army, as this allowed work to continue during the night. The pumping-out of flooded areas was finally completed in West Thurrock and Purfleet on March 6th, after an estimated 600-1000 million gallons of water had been removed. Royal Air Force drying units were brought in for use in residential Tilbury Town, and the sewage works became operational again by March 6th.
A crowd of people all helping to fill sandbags in the rain.
On Friday, February 13th, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Grays, Purfleet, the Bata Hotel at East Tilbury and Tilbury Town, including the new rest centre at Lansdowne Road School and some Tilbury houses affected by flooding.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visits Tilbury.
The 1953 tide reached only 3.7 ft above the level of a high spring tide at London Bridge, but crucially, this was enough to breech sea walls throughout the east coast. In total, the flooding affected 160,000 acres of farmland, 24,000 houses, 200 major industrial premises, 200 miles of railway, 12 gas works and two large power stations. Around 300 people drowned, as well as 11,000 cattle, 9000 sheep, 2400 pigs, 34,000 poultry and 70 horses.
A crowd of people inspecting debris left by the flood.
Do you remember the 1953 flood? Were you affected? Did you rally round for the rescue? Do you recall the Queen's visit? If so, e-mail us your memories
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