Severe flooding and the worst “tidal surge” (similar to a tidal wave) in 60 years hit the UK Thursday. Prompting evacuations, snarling transport, and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power, it has killed at least 3 people in accidents so far.
About 10,000 houses along the eastern coast of England were evacuated when Britain’s Environment Agency warned that they could be facing the worst tidal surge in 60 years. The Thames Barrier was being closed late on Thursday to protect London from the surge.
The Environment Agency also put out more than 50 flood warnings for parts of the UK, with the flood risk stretching into Friday morning.
Residents affected by flooding in north Wales were ferried safely by rescue teams, while officials in other areas were just handing out sandbags and setting up emergency shelters. The Ministry of Defence said that “a small number of personnel” had been drafted in to help local authorities deal with flooding in Norfolk.
The storm hit Scotland first overnight, plowing the highlands with gusts up to 229 km/hr. Trains were suspended for much of the day Thursday, but began to run on and off later as some routes were cleared of debris.
However, transportation troubles didn’t end there. All flights to Copenhagen’s international airport were halted late Thursday due to the storm. It wasn’t clear how many passengers were affected or how long the airport – which is Scandinavia’s biggest – would stay closed.
Almost all flights to and from Hamburg airport in northern Germany were also cancelled, and federal authorities in Germany issued a warning for residents of Hamburg to expect a “very severe tidal flood” at about 6:30 a.m. Friday local time. Residents were urged to evacuate low-lying areas of the port and along the Elbe River.
Some schools in the northern Netherlands closed early so children could get home safely to celebrate Sinterklaas — the traditional Dutch version of Christmas — with their families.
Passengers on an easyJet flight from London to Glasgow, Scotland, wound up landing in Manchester after aborted attempts to land in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
As the plane neared Scotland, “suddenly everything started shaking and bumping, we were going up and down, up and down,” said passenger Hazel Bedford.
“An awful lot of people were being sick but the plane, it was incredibly quiet. When cabin crew said ‘We’re going to Manchester,’ people started to realize this was serious,” she said.
An accident west of Edinburgh claimed the life a truck driver and a falling tree killed a man in Nottinghamshire.
Police in western Denmark said a 72-year-old woman died when the van she was in was knocked over in the storm.
Forecasters predicted winds gusting up to 140 kph along Germany’s North Sea coast.
Ferry operators cancelled services to some of Germany’s North Sea islands and the country’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruptions across northern Germany.
According to the DPA news agency, authorities in Germany reported flooding on the North Sea Islands of Langeness and Hooge near Denmark. Residents prepped for the storm with sandbags around their homes ; However, the mayor of Langeness warned if the seas rose as high as predicted, the Residents protected their homes with sandbags against the rising waters but Langeness mayor Heike Hinrichsen warned if the seas rose as high as predicted, the “waves of the North Sea will be lapping at the houses.”
“Nobody on the islands will be closing their eyes tonight,” Langeness resident Fiede Nissen said. “It’s already tense.”
The Netherlands closed water barriers to protect the low-lying country from high tides. This is the first time the The Netherlands closed water barriers to protect the low-lying country from high tides, including the Oosterscheldekering barrier in the southwestern delta region, for the first time in 6 years.
Authorities in Friesland were patrolling dikes to make sure any breeches or damages from the high tides were repaired quickly.
In Scandinavia, police urged people to stay indoors and avoid the wind gusts.
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