Flood-hit Wormgate, pictured after much of the water had receded. Photo by Gemma GaddFlood-hit Wormgate, pictured after much of the water had receded. Photo by Gemma Gadd
Flood-hit Wormgate, pictured after much of the water had receded. Photo by Gemma Gadd

Ten years on: Remembering the devastation of Boston's 2013 flood

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the floods that hit Boston. Here we take a look back at the devastating events of that night – and the extraordinary way the community pulled together.

Even a decade on, some still describe it as the worst night of their lives – the evening of December 5, 2013.

A storm had hit the area on this day, causing a tidal surge which forced the River Haven to burst its banks by the early evening.

It was a terrifying night for many, with panic-stricken families trapped upstairs in their homes as the flood waters rushed in.

Around 600 homes were affected – with some deluged in up to 4ft of water.

Many had to face the added misery of losing all their Christmas presents under the tree when their homes became inundated.

Hundreds were left temporarily homeless, with around 160 being evacuated to the Princess Royal Sports Arena (PRSA) in an emergency refuge operation run by the Red Cross. Some arrived soaked up to their waists in flood water. Many turned up with young children, pets, and the few, most treasured, possessions they could carry.

Numerous businesses and other premises were flooded out – with the waters reaching 50 streets across the town.

This was the worst flood to hit the area in 60 years.

But along with the horrible memories of that time – there are many who remember the amazing way the Boston community pulled together to help each other in a time of crisis.

The Boston Standard office, based near the river in Church Street at the time, was one of those badly hit – with almost 4ft of water sweeping through our newsroom.

While staff members arrived to clear the ground floor, others ventured out in wellies to cover the unfolding events.

A nearby estate agency kindly offered us a desk in their office, so our team could carry on delivering the latest news updates on the situation.

And it is the memory of our community members chipping in to help that lingers – whether it was local police, councillors, business owners, or just people walking by.

Resident Mark Whelan told us: “I remember working with so many incredible people to help those affected by the terrible flooding.

"The community all came together to help. Such community spirit.”

Chrissie Molsom commented: “I worked alongside the emergency services evacuating people then helping clean up the next day.

"I saw men cry and families devastated.

"It was an awful night. But how people came together in the days and weeks afterwards was absolutely amazing.”

Kirsty Frost added: “I was trapped upstairs for the night with my one-year-old and five-year-old with no heating or electricity and barely any supplies.

"I lived down Station Street at the time and we lost absolutely everything downstairs.

"By far the scariest night of my life.”

Kim Sharp said: “I remember it well. Whole of downstairs was completely flooded, lost pretty much everything. Luckily we had help from family, friends, the community and local businesses.”

Others remarked on how the shocking and surreal images from that night are still vivid in their memories.

Simon Goy was standing on watch at the Electricity Sub Station near the Stump entrance the evening the flood hit.

He said: “I saw fish swimming near the Stump’s wooden entrance doors! Was horrifying to see!”

Local radio station Endeavour kept broadcasting on the evening until they were told to leave their studios. Chris Moore, who was presenting a show that night, recounts what happened: “I put out the last announcement that we had to leave rapidly, played a last tune, then closed down as the waters approached.

"Dylan Taylor (the station manager) and I dashed to our cars and drove out into the flooded roads nearby. My car footwell was already filling with dirty water as the surreal sight of furniture and wheelie bins floating past was witnessed.

"Thank God, we both got through!”

Others said their pets began acting strangely ahead of the river bursting its banks – with one reporting their cat sitting in their bath tub just moments before the flood hit.

Unsurprisingly, it was an exceptionally busy period for the emergency services – helping with evacuations and pumping water out of homes and roads, among other things.

Both Witham Fourth and Black Sluice Internal Drainage Boards were at action stations during the crisis – pumping hundreds of millions of litres of seawater back into the Haven.

In a Standard column, the Mayor at the time – Paul Kenny – who himself offered support to the flood-hit community, praised the work of volunteers in the clean-up effort, adding: “This shows me that we live in a town with real heart where people are prepared to support each other when crisis occurs.”

What has changed since the 2013 flood?

Boston now has a 300-tonne flood gate helping to protect 13,700 homes across the borough.

This was put to use for the first time on November 7, 2021, when weather conditions threatened to cause another tidal surge.

It is part of a multi million-pound Environment Agency flood protection scheme.

But, as we reported last month, it is not yet complete – with work on other elements now delayed by four years and expected to cost £60m more.

The second phase of the project, once completed, will protect an additional 526 homes. For many in the town, this can’t come soon enough.