This extract is taken from
‘The Great Tide. The story of the 1953 flood disaster in Essex’
By Hilda Grieve (P 403) Published by Essex County Council, this extract is from the police sergeant’s report at the time.
A group of young people from Benfleet Yacht Club helped to rescue and evacuate members of the public from the Canvey Island flood.
‘Ten members of the South Benfleet Yacht Club were responsible for saving over 60 people from the Sixty Acres and Winter Gardens area of Canvey Island. This area was flooded to a depth of about 5 feet on the north side of the inner sea wall. They rowed their boats from South Benfleet and whilst 8 male members rescued the people in their boats, the two women set up a shelter in an empty house for the old people.’
They later helped the police move these people to safety.
The police report continues. ‘They carried out their self – appointed task in the face of a bitter wind and a strong current which made their boats practically unmanageable, and they did not stop until they had made certain that every living person had been removed from the flooded bungalows. In their efforts to rescue, the men were forced to enter the water on occasion, to get the people out of their houses. Had it not been for their efforts I am certain that the death roll on this day would have been much greater.’
A seventy –year-old woman who had endured a twelve hour wait to be rescued commented after her rescue by a young man from the Benfleet Yacht Club, that he was ‘calm, helpful and most courteous.’ She was very thankful to her rescuer when the boat landed her on central wall path, so that she could be evacuated to South Benfleet Primary school. ( page 404)
From Bobby Phillips (nee Fisher) one of the rescuers in the picture below.
(notes made March 2014)
‘On the evening of the 1952 flood I was at the yacht club thinking the tide was high when my friend Morris Johnson (father was last independent chairman of Benfleet Council) arrived on a coach from a trip to London with workmates of the Regent Oil Depot. There were queues to Canvey due to the tied, he went home to get his boots. He and I walked along Ferry road towards the bridge. The water was up through the boatyard and had floated two or three huge baulks of timber across the road. The tied was turning so we pushed them back off the road while they still floated. If Morris hadn’t had the common sense to do this the road to Canvey would have been blocked to all traffic (including ambulances etc) when the tied dropped.’
‘We waded to the bridge and watched all the debris being pushed up against the bridge by the outgoing tide, including Morris’s dinghy,’
‘we went home, not having any idea that Canvey was flooded, until the next day when we took dinghies over on a truck to help rescue people.’