Flood Memories of Jean Coates (nee Webb)

from the flood play collection

In the early hours of February 1st 1953, I was awoken by my boyfriend David’s Aunt. She wanted a pair of knickers as she had left home so quickly, as the water was rising, she had not got any on. Then I was told that the sea wall had collapsed at the end of Rainbow Road and that Ken Gold had brought his wife Biddy, Brother Jim and sister in law Doris and their two children Kenny and Malcolm to our house in North Avenue because we had stairs. They lived in a bungalow in Chamberlain Avenue. My boyfriend David stayed behind in Chamberlain Avenue because he had thigh boots (Waders) and was able to help with a rescue. He helped another person to lift a wheelchair bound man from his home further along Chamberlain Avenue.

Ken Gold came in his van which when it was daylight, we could see it submerged in the sea water in North Avenue. By that time Dave had arrived. We were taken by boat that is 2 of my sisters (Carole and Linda), Ken, Biddy, Dave and the rest of their family including me. We were taken to King John School in Hadleigh which had been opened as a rest centre. I did not then know where the rest of my family was, i.e. Mum, Dad, Sister Gloria, Brother Jim and the twins Janice and John.

We were given dry clothing at the centre and food. The WVS was very good.

Buses started to arrive at the centre and Ken, Biddy, Dave, my two sisters and I went to Becontree. Then Dave and I took the girls to my Aunt in Dagenham where at that time, which was well into the afternoon, they had not heard that Canvey was flooded.

On Monday 2nd February, Dave and I decided we would go to the cinema in Barking. When we got to the bus stop at the top of the road, Dave said he had my engagement ring in his pocket and I had better have it before he lost it. So I got engaged at a bus stop in Becontree.

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