High drama as high tide sets in

THE Highest tide of the year so far got the better of two drivers, who found their cars swamped by the sea and in need of rescue within 90 minutes of each other.

A crew from Redcar RNLI responded to the first call-out at 3.20pm on Wednesday after coastguards received a number of 999 calls saying two people were on the roof of a vehicle on the town’s beach as the waters came in.

The trapped people, who were backing up to launch a speed boat, had made their own way to safety on the beach when they arrived, but to avoid the owner attempting to recover the vehicle himself, and potential pollution from the vehicle’s fuel tank, the lifeboat launching tractor was used to pull it clear of the water.

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As the crew were standing down, more calls were made to the coastguard reporting that the driver of a second vehicle had got into difficulties while trying to recover a speed boat on to its trailer near the Marine Club at South Gare.

The lifeboat re-launched, but on arrival its crew discovered that the driver was safe ashore and the vehicle was being rapidly submerged by the tide.

Dave Cocks, who has worked at the RNLI station for 36 years, said it was the first time in his experience that the crew had been called out twice in one day to this type of rescue.

“It’s certainly very unusual,” he said. “The tide in the morning had been the highest tide of the year, it was coming in very quickly. The first vehicle was swamped in around five to six feet of water in just 45 minutes.”

The cars weren’t the only things in need of a watery rescue this week. A herd of cattle remained stranded in fields in Hedon, East Yorkshire, yesterday, as flood water inundated the farmland they were on.

Simon Saunt, who farms with his father Stuart and brother Mark said 64 heifers were stuck without food.

“It’s very disruptive and very disheartening,” he said. “They haven’t eaten for two days.”

A nearby drain, which is maintained by the Environment Agency, appeared to be causing the problem. The Agency said intense, localised rainfall caused the water levels in Burstwick Drain to rise onto nearby floodplain land and that the water would take some time to completely dissipate.

A spokesman for the Agency added: “To help alleviate the flooding, we have looked at the possibility of deploying a pump to help move on some of the water from Burstwick Drain, but after an assessment of the current situation, despite the water affecting some farmland, there is not enough depth of water for the pump to be effective.

“We are visiting the farmers to discuss other measures that could be taken. We carry out weed clearance along the Burstwick Drain as part of our annual works programme, and will look at the possibility of doing some additional work here.”

The farmers had left straw bales for the animals to reach on a bridge above the flood water but they were struggling to navigate their livestock towards the stash yesterday.

Mark Saunt added: “We appreciate that we get huge rain events but we have had two-and-a-quarter inches here. A friend of mine in the south had 4.5 inches and he had no such problems. For people like my father and brother who have cattle, I don’t think the public realises the emotional strain it has.”

- Bridlington is to receive £56,925 from a Government fund aimed at alleviating flood damage caused by this year’s winter storms.