My Memories of the 1953 Flood

Sent in by Linda Perfect

for illustration only

It was very cold on that February morning, when I woke up and looked out the window and saw the sea swirling menacingly around my house. It was dirty dark and grey and was full of objects floating in it. I woke my mum and she woke up dad and we had to all get dressed quickly. Mum and dad had 6 children at the time.

We had someone shouting in a loudhailer telling everyone to evacuate the island immediately before the next tide came in. I remember very clearly dad carrying us one by one on his back to the end of the road where a coach was waiting in the main road to take us off the island. My sister Val and I went first and had to look after our brothers and sisters as they were brought to us. I was only six myself. Dad brought mum last who was  pregnant at the time with Christopher. We were taken to shipwrights drive school in Benfleet on the mainland where we had to sit on the floor with hundreds of other people. From there we were given a ride to Enfield to my nans house. The next day we were all taken ill with pneumonia, and were taken by ambulance to hospital. I hated it there as the nurses used to pinch us. We were in there for about three weeks.

My dad had to go back to feed the budgie and he said that the island was in a terrible state, rubbish, sewage littered everywhere and dead animals. He saw many people repairing the sea wall two of whom was my uncle Jeff and another was my dads cousin.

When we came home my parents had a lot of cleaning up to do and we all went back to school after that had been cleaned up, that was Long Road School.

I remember the day we were released from hospital we were taken into a room in our pyjamas and were given a complete set of clothes , all brand new of course and we also were given a new coat each, mine was blue and new black patent shoes with a strap across the foot that were fastened with a button. Oh how I loved those shoes. I kept them in a box under the bed for years after they got too small and used to take them out and look at them. I’d never had anything like them before because we always wore sandals in the summer and the rest of the year we wore wellies.

The school also gave out a large tin of biscuits to each family which had been donated to flood victims. I also remember all the cows at the back of my house standing on a bit of high land, they were very lucky as this saved them.

When I worked as a career about ten years ago I was told a very sad story by one of my clients in Heilsburg Rd. She was living in London on the day of the flood and her sister lived on Canvey in Heilsburg road. When she heard about the flood she was very worried about her and took a train to Benfleet to see if she was all right. When she got to Benfleet station there were no buses running of course. She managed to obtain a rowing boat and rowed all the way to Heilsburg Rd. when she got there she found her sister floating face down in the water. Very sad.

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