Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Back from the Doone Country safe and sound but a lucky escape remembered.
We have been walking the Doone Country of Exmoor again and as usual it was just a privilege to wander the dramatic landscape. The weather was kind to us on this occasion but the area needs treating with a great deal of respect because in this part of the world, when the met turns nasty it can turn nasty in spades.
The summer of 1952 had been a wet one and the Exmoor catchment was already saturated when on August 15th a massive nine inches of rain fell in twenty four hours. The rivers that drain the moor became raging torrents and trees and boulders were swept down toward the coast. A mass of debris laden water was to sweep down the East and West Lyn Rivers and devastate the coastal village of Lynmouth resulting in the loss of 34 lives. Horrific though the Lynmouth flood was it proved to be but the overture for what happened five months later.
On the night of 31st January - 1st February a combination of a big spring tide, low pressure over the North Sea and a North Westerly gale caused a surge of water to move rapidly south east. As this lump of water was forced into the shallow bottle neck of the southern North Sea it swept over the flood defences of East England and the Netherlands. The death toll in England was to reach 307 but Holland bore the brunt with a tragic loss of life that approached two thousand. On Canvey Island where I was living at the time, 58 people drowned before the island was evacuated. Of course at my young age I just thought it a huge adventure. It was certainly a night to remember.