Pictures: Community spirit cleans up at Hele
22:47 02 February 2014
Coastal community clears up after promenade and businesses take a pounding from the sea.
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.
“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.”
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.