Lowestoft cinema looks back on second anniversary of tidal surge
East Coast Cinema owner Michael Hansell was at home on the evening of December 5 2013 when a policeman visited the cinema to say staff should think about closing because there was the potential for a flood.
“We took a pre-emptive step by closing but we had nothing like sandbags because we had never been flooded before,” he explained.
“No provision was provided. To us, it didn’t seem like there was going to be a major flood.”
During that night though, while Mr Hansell and his staff were at home asleep, water surged through the front doors of the building and devastated the venue’s three downstairs auditoriums.
“We weren’t expecting to get flooded,” Mr Hansell said.
“Even though they told us to take precautions, it didn’t seem possible. The area hadn’t flooded in 60 years.”
A member of staff was first on site at 7am and described what Mr Hansell described as the “heartbreaking” scene over the phone.
Arriving at 9am, Mr Hansell said: “Walking round you could see lots of the work we had put into the place be completely destroyed.”
Since taking over East Coast Cinema five years ago, Mr Hansell has invested about £300,000 into improvements to equipment and furnishings inside.
The flood caused damage totalling about £400,000 - but the even bigger threat to the business would be the long-term closure while the damage was repaired.
The cinema could now reopen until February, meaning it missed out on the lucrative Christmas season and revenue from the Disney hit Frozen.
Buildings and contents insurance covered a lot of the damage but Mr Hansell still had to invest a further £15,000 to get the place back to how it was.
However it got £5,000 government funding from the Business Support Scheme - administered by Waveney District Council - to help firms affected cover extra costs.