Canvey Island is shielded, at least temporarily, from the sea. Army officers directing the repair of the shattered sea walls announced to-day that the island is “water-tight,” and that the flood water is pouring back into the sea through six sluice gates.
This news came after Air Ministry warnings of gales in the North Sea, which may throw more pressure on the improvised defences. A Ministry official said: ”The strong northerly winds developing during the day will tend to heighten the tides on the East Coast.”
The normal high tide on the East Coast this afternoon is one foot lower than the normal tide that was expected on Saturday. And the winds to-night are not expected to be as violent as Saturday’s, when there was a gale of up to 54 m.p.h. To-night winds of 39 m.p.h are forecast. Belgium’s weather bureau also forecast a storm over a wide area of the North Sea.
‘Stand by tonight’
In Norfolk police asked the Army and the RAF to provide emergency services to stand by because of the threat of further extensive flooding between King’s Lynn and Downham Market. There are fears that the River Ouse may overflow its banks again to-night.
Five thousand people might be affected by this possible new flooding. They are being urged to send their children overnight to King’s Lynn rest centres. But despite these warnings and precautions, the general picture to-day is one of results being slowly won by the toil of the mud-coated workers.
Water is lower on Canvey, in the other Essex flood areas, in Kent and in Lincolnshire.
The two big tasks
Canvey’s two main tasks now are: to build up the sea wall sufficiently in the next nine days to withstand the next normal period of high tides; and to complete the search for victims in the flooded bungalows.
Long convoys of buses, lorries and cars took volunteers to the island, to-day to help in the search. During the night a fleet of Army DUKW vehicles was sent to the island and soldiers helped police in a house-to-house check. By dawn a third of the buildings in the island had been covered.
As the search went on to-day, more-houses had the large “S” chalked on the wall or door indicating that it had been checked. One party entering an apparently abandoned house found an old man upstairs. He was alive. No one knew his name or why he had stayed, he was carried by stretcher over the muddy dyke to an ambulance in which he was rushed to hospital.
It is now fairly certain that the Canvey death roll will be much smaller than was thought at first. Previous high figures were due to duplication in counting victims. Latest figure is 36 but this figure is far from final.
Factory starts again
To-day Canvey’s first factory to get going again opened its gates. The firm is the Egen Radio Component Manufacturing Company, who, like all on the island, had been without electricity since Saturday. Technicians have brought it again into grid contact.
In other ways, too, life, is returning to the island. But relief authorities have appealed to evacuated islanders not to return to their homes until an official go-ahead is given.