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Thousands of families have been told to evacuate their homes ahead of expected flooding along the east coast of Britain. Severe flood warnings are now in place and residents have been told to leave their properties.

Weather warnings are in place for much of Britain with gale force wind, snow and ice expected over the next few days. Already fallen snow has now turned to treacherous ice with mercury levels dipping to -9C.

Freezing temperatures brought chaos for commuters trying to get to and from work, with crashes in icy conditions having brought some routes to a standstill. Meanwhile Norwich Airport shut completely because of snow on the runway and Eurostar services were cancelled.

The wintry weather has come in from Canada and forecasters are predicting that Britain will be hit by further cold conditions, this time from the Baltic region. Environment Agency officials have issued seven severe flood warnings, which mean flooding is expected and there is a predicted danger to life, in Essex and Suffolk because of the risky combination of high tides and strong winds. Meanwhile, there are flood warnings and flood alerts in place elsewhere in the country.

Refusing to leave

Residents in Jaywick, near Clacton on Sea have been told to leave their homes. However, some have refused to leave their properties, saying they would rather stay put. The police and the army are now helping to evacuate some 2,500 homes from what is a largely poor neighbourhood in Essex. Jaywick has previously been nicknamed benefits on sea.

Many said they had been told to leave on previous occasions and they had not been flooded, so they had decided to stay this time around. However, police said they were not crying wolf and they urged everyone to leave for their own safety. Respite centres have been set up to take in families and their pets overnight.