Source AP ©

Powerful storm in Europe kicks up surging waters

A powerful storm in the North Sea kicked up surging waters that forced the Netherlands to close floodgates at Europe's largest port and Britain to evacuate residents in eastern England on Friday.

In the Netherlands, the new Maeslant Barrier protecting the mouth of Rotterdam Port was closed for the first time under storm conditions, halting all ship traffic, officials said.

Waves up to 20 feet (6 meters) high were rolling up against sea defenses in Lowestoft, England, the most easterly point of Britain about 120 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of London on the North Sea coast.

"It's quite spectacular," said Lowestoft resident Chris Warnes, 55. "I've lived here all my life and never seen anything like it.

"We are sad people being down here in the cold watching the waves break but it's such an amazing sight. I was trying to get to Norwich today to go to work but can't get out of Lowestoft."

Great Yarmouth, just north of Lowestoft, was also closed to traffic as the River Yare rose nearly to the surface of road bridges.

Four emergency shelters at schools in the area were almost full with evacuated residents, officials said.

Britain's Environment Agency posted severe flood warnings for the coast from Lowestoft to Aldeburgh, and for the lower reaches of the River Bure and the River Yare.