The Yorkshire coast was battered by strong winds and high water last night, causing a tidal surge which flooded seaside towns.
Whitby and Scarborough bore the brunt of the weather as flood defences failed and huge waves lashed over the harbour walls and seeped into waterfront properties.
Precautionary sandbags which had been placed out the previous night by fearful residents and business owners were washed away effortlessly by the force of the surge and an ice-cream kiosk was lifted off the ground.
In Whitby, foam from the stormy seas filled Pier Road in front of the famous Magpie Café, in scenes surprising even to locals.
And on New Quay Road, one of the town’s main shopping streets, the water crept above street level just as it did three years ago.
On the other side of the town on Church Street businesses has closed to “batten down the hatches” and residents could only hope the devastation caused by the 2013 event was not repeated.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews were dealing with flooding in Sandsend as well as various parts of Whitby.
Twenty miles down the coast in Scarborough, the town’s new lifeboat station was tested to its limits as waves washed under the doors.
Residents gathered on the banks of North Bay to witness the tide smashing over the sea walls and gushing on to Royal Albert Drive.
Mountain Rescue teams had also joined the police in cordoning off the road for public safety.
The emergency services issued several safety warnings after footage emerged of people standing perilously close to the edge of harbour walls seemingly attempting to wave-dodge.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue tweeted: “Please stay away from the sea front.”
The organisation’s comments were echoed by Humberside Fire Service who in a series of messages posted: “Please stay away from sea fronts and allow emergency services to do their job” and “Spectators seriously hampering emergency services on Cleethorpe Promenade.”
The warnings came as the surge continued down the coastline.
Thirty properties were evacuated in the East Yorkshire town of Hornsea and there were also reports of a house fire in the same area also.
An elderly woman and children had to be rescued from a car that had become surrounded by water on the seafront.
Elsewhere on the East Coast last night, evacuations were taking place in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Jaywick, Mistley and Mersea in Essex, and residents in 1,800 properties in east Suffolk were also told to leave their homes.
Norfolk Police was working with the fire service and Army to visit more than 5,000 properties while rest centres were set up for residents in areas affected by the flooding.
The Environment Agency (EA) issued 17 severe warnings – which warn of danger to life – with those in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex most under threat.
The Chief Fire Officers’ Association said it had mobilised 15 fire and rescue services to assist in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Humberside.