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Just a year before I was born.

I don't think that I've ever heard this one mentioned and I was suprised to find out about it, but on this day in 1953 307 people were killed when the Thames estuary broke its banks, flooding large areas of Kent and Essex.
A car ferry also sank in the Irish Sea, in one of the worst gales in living memory, claiming the lives of more than 130 passengers and crew.

I initially thought this was my childhood memory of the tail of a Hurricane but good old Google has it.
The North Sea flood of 1953 was one of the most devastating natural disasters ever recorded in the UK. Over 1,600 km of coastline was damaged, and sea walls were breached, inundating 1,000 kmē. Flooding forced 30,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, and 24,000 properties were seriously damaged.[1]
In individual incidents, 38 died at Felixstowe in Suffolk when wooden prefabricated homes in the West End area of the town were flooded. In Essex, Canvey Island was inundated with the loss of 58 lives and another 37 died when the seafront village of Jaywick near Clacton was flooded.[2] In Scotland, the little fishing village of Crovie (then in Banffshire, now Aberdeenshire), built on a narrow strip of land along the Moray Firth coast, was abandoned by many of its inhabitants as entire structures were swept into the sea.
The total death toll on land in the UK is estimated at 307. The total death toll at sea for the UK, including the MV Princess Victoria, is estimated at 224.

I had read about that and found it hard to believe what happened

There was something on the telly about this a few years ago, probably 2003 as it was the anniversay.  They interviewed a chap who, as a kid, had been saved from the roof of the family house on Canvey Island. They'd crawled out through the skylight.

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