Major West Sussex flooding: Mum recalls terror after water 'filled up' cabin at holiday park with her three young children inside

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A mum has spoken of her terror after water 'filled up' her family cabin at a holiday park in West Sussex, with her three young children inside.

West Sussex County Council confirmed on Tuesday that ‘three severe flooding incidents’ happened across the county, in Earnley, Bracklesham and Littlehampton.

Shortly after 1am, crews responded to a flooding incident at Medmerry Holiday Park. In total around 180 people were evacuated.

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Among them was Kiera Elizabeth, her three children – aged nine, six and four – as well as her mother, who owns the cabin.

Among the people were evacuated from the Medmerry holiday park was Kiera Elizabeth and her three children – aged nine, six and four. Photo contributedAmong the people were evacuated from the Medmerry holiday park was Kiera Elizabeth and her three children – aged nine, six and four. Photo contributed
Among the people were evacuated from the Medmerry holiday park was Kiera Elizabeth and her three children – aged nine, six and four. Photo contributed

Kiera said: “We woke up to one of the children needing the toilet in the early hours of the morning. It was about 2am. None of the electrics were working. We got out of bed to a puddle of water, about ankle high.

"In a matter of half an hour, it had filled up the whole cabin up to our knees. It had covered the bottom bunk of the bed. We moved the children to the top bunk and went out to shout for help.

"We had to go a foot deep in water, it was up to my hips – completely over the cars.”

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Kiera said a man from a nearby flat heard her cries and came to help.

Shortly after 1am, crews then responded to a flooding incident at Medmerry Holiday Park. In total around 180 people were evacuated. Photo contributedShortly after 1am, crews then responded to a flooding incident at Medmerry Holiday Park. In total around 180 people were evacuated. Photo contributed
Shortly after 1am, crews then responded to a flooding incident at Medmerry Holiday Park. In total around 180 people were evacuated. Photo contributed

“He took us to safety in his flat,” Kiera said. “We were safe and laid low until half six.

"The fire brigade were doing a door-to-door evacuation. They came up and got us – three kids, four adults and three dogs in a first floor flat.

“They contemplated taking us out by boat but dogs were too big. They walked us through with the children over their shoulders. They were just incredible. They didn’t leave our side.

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"They were so good and passed on from people to people to get us safely out of the park.”

Kiera Elizabeth said her cabin at Medmerry Holiday Park filled up with floodwater. Photo contributedKiera Elizabeth said her cabin at Medmerry Holiday Park filled up with floodwater. Photo contributed
Kiera Elizabeth said her cabin at Medmerry Holiday Park filled up with floodwater. Photo contributed

Once at the entrance, emergency crews took the family's details and got them into an ambulance.

Kiera added: "We were freezing. We had no coats or shoes as they were submerged in the water by the time we woke up.

"The kids had blankets from friends in the flat. They took us by ambulance up to the church. Everything set out. Blankets and drinks, spare socks.

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"They were so lovely and caring, trying to make jokes with the kids. Volunteers from the Red Cross were just incredible.

"We got put in a coach, filled up with passengers, dogs, kids. They took us to Seal Bay, where we got fed, hot drinks, warm blankets. Medmerry staff met us there."

Kiera's parents own the cabin and the family have been 'holidaying at the park for years'.

The mum-of-three said: "It was heartbreaking to see the cabin under water like that. It’s not just a holiday – it has all our possessions in. It’s got memories.

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"It can all be replaced and we are all safe – that’s the main thing. A week’s worth of clothing. It will still be there when the water goes down but who knows what condition it will be in.

"People have paid a lot of money to be on holiday and it came to a very drastic end. It’s such a shame for a lot of people.

"It really was [terrifying]. It was completely unexpected. We had a flood warning and yellow alerts but we didn’t hear the rain. It came up so fast. Ankle to knee height in half an hour. We thought we had to get the kids out now.”

Kiera said the staff were 'just incredible' and 'I need to thank them'.

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"One member of staff had been working since 6pm but wouldn’t stop until everyone had the help they needed," she added,

"They were just so dedicated. Everyone working together as a team and you could really see it. I want to commend every person.

"They got us out of danger so quickly and so efficiently with care and calmness. They never made us feel panicked or in danger.

"We are all safe and we didn’t have to get the children through the water – that was the biggest thing. It was freezing, dirty and pitch black. Car alarms going off It was a bit of a whirlwind."

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Gordon Walker, Cove UK Chief Operations Officer, said the decision to close the holiday park until Monday, May 13.

He added: “We understand that many will be concerned, but our key priority is the safe evacuation of everyone at the park.

“Please DO NOT attempt to visit the park under any circumstances. If you have a holiday booked we will contact you to re-arrange.

“We will ensure that all are updated as soon as we’re able to assess the damage and the water level has dropped. While we appreciate the desire to call through to the park, at this time our teams are working around the clock to stabilise the situation and will not be able to take calls.

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“We know that this will be a worrying time for many owners’ and holiday guests we appreciate your patience.”

West Sussex County Council said it is expected that ‘calmer winds and reducing tides’ are due in the coming days, ‘making the situation much better’.

A spokesperson added: “In the meantime, all those affected have been evacuated and provided with all necessary support until they can return to their premises.”

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