Pictures: Community spirit cleans up at Hele

Beachside Cafe owners Alex Campbell and Kim Hitchins praised the community spirit that helped to spare their premises from serious flooding. Beachside Cafe owners Alex Campbell and Kim Hitchins praised the community spirit that helped to spare their premises from serious flooding.

Sunday, February 2, 2014
10:47 PM

Coastal community clears up after promenade and businesses take a pounding from the sea.

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The high tides at Hele Bay on Sunday morning. Picture: Jay Joachim.The high tides at Hele Bay on Sunday morning. Picture: Jay Joachim.

THE owners of the Cafe Beachside at Hele in Ilfracombe have praised the community spirit of friends and neighbours who turned out on Saturday night to save their business from the sea.

People braved the crashing waves last night in a frantic bid to keep the roadside drains clear of seaweed and debris to prevent major flooding.

The power of the tidal surge saw Tarmac ripped from the road, promenade bench and planters tossed about and damage to the front of a Beachside Holiday Park building.

Alex Campbell and Kim Hitchins, who bought the café last year, were expecting a struggle after similar scenes with the big tides in early January.

The sea front at Hele Bay took a pounding.The sea front at Hele Bay took a pounding.

“We knew from previous experience we had to keep the drains free of kelp otherwise the water has nowhere else to go,” said Alex.

“We were out here with the help of a lot of our neighbours, for about two-and-a-half hours, getting battered. Not that I condone people coming down to the promenade in that, but we would have flooded otherwise.

“The power of the waves was incredible, at one point I was standing on a piece of Tarmac and could feel myself moving up the street - it was a pretty hairy, pretty dangerous night. But we did not really have any major damage – we lost a tea cup and mug, plus a couple of plant pots.

“We had a really good turn out, a good community spirit and some really experienced people who have lived by the sea their entire lives, we managed to keep each other safe.”

Debris, seaweed and chunks of Tarmac broken up by the waves at Hele Bay,Debris, seaweed and chunks of Tarmac broken up by the waves at Hele Bay,

Residents are now worried the promenade wall at Hele is about to give way, after the weekend’s storms left a large crack running along its length.

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