SOUTH Essex appears to have escaped the worst after a huge tidal surge battered the British  coast.

There was some minor flooding on Southend seafront near the Three Shells cafe and some beach huts in Thorpe Bay were hit by flooding.

The Environment Agency issued severe flood warnings for Rochford, Battlesbridge, Paglesham and Great Wakering late last night.

Alerts were also sent out to residents on Canvey warning them to prepare for flooding.

The island, which was one of the worst affected areas in the deadly 1953 floods, was left relatively dry thanks to its improved flood defences.

Pathways along Southend seafront were left flooded after gale force winds, large waves and low pressure combined to create a tidal surge, which weather experts predicted would be the worst of its kind in more than 60 years.

Water levels were originally expected to peak at 2am, but the surge came an hour earlier than expected.

Southend Standard: Beach huts flooded at shoebury

The flood situation in Essex has now been downgraded from severe flood warning  to a flood warning.

There is still some risk to properties but the high tides have passed and whilst the full picture will not be known for some time, it appears that the county has fortunately not seen the same conditions as other parts of the country.

The Environment Agency will be out assessing the flood defences to determine if any remedial work needs to be carried out.

The majority of the people who were evacuated from their homes in North Essex have now left the rest centres.

The emergency services worked with local authorities, Essex County Council, Health Service, Environment Agency and the military to ensure that the residents in the local communities near to the coast and rivers were kept safe.

The situation in Essex, which has one of the longest coastline in the Country, changed quite rapidly during the night.  From an initial two main areas of severe flood warning, a further seven areas were added by midnight.

Ch Supt Simon Williams, Gold Commander said: “Contingency plans were implemented to protect the communities of Essex.  All emergency services and authorities have worked tirelessly through the night to minimise the threat to the lives of those in the county.  We are grateful for the additional support provided by military personnel from the Colchester Garrison and by mutual aid supplied by the Metropolitan Police."

For the latest check the Environment Agency website or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and to sign up to receive free flood warnings.