A mother-of-five has told she watched her dream home fall off the edge of a cliff after a collapse that forced 20 households to flee for their lives.
A series of shocking photos show the devastation left after the collapse in Eastchurch, Kent on Friday night, which sent cars tumbling down the slope and left houses precariously perched on the edge.
All but two of the households on Surf Crescent have since returned home, but several were left without electricity and one is said to be at serious risk of falling into the sea below.
Emma Tullett, 42, told Mail Online how she “lost everything” after watching half of her dream home plunge over the edge.
CLIFF COLLAPSE: Emergency services are back at the scene of a cliff collapse at #Eastchurch on the #IsleofSheppey. Further land movement has left one property structurally unsafe and at risk of collapse. People are urged to avoid the area. https://t.co/hmSFmFNMzS pic.twitter.com/bWwEgMd3CJ
— Kent Fire and Rescue Service (@kentfirerescue) May 31, 2020
Tullett, who told Mail Online she only bought the £195,000, two-bedroom bungalow in August 2018, told how she grabbed her children and whatever they could before half of the house plunged down the cliff, along with her car.
She said: “It's absolutely heartbreaking - we've lost everything. This was my dream home which I paid for in cash. We were told we'd have about 40 years living here, but we've not even had two.”
Local resident Malcolm Newell, founder of Eastchurch Cliff Erosion Community Group, who has been campaigning for more protection for his and nearby homes since 2015, said: “It is not only the properties it is affecting, but caravan sites, who've had to move dozens of caravans back over the years, and farmers who are losing a great deal of land.
“It's also worrying because there are sewer pipes in the road, right near to where the cliff has come away.
“We had a huge meeting with Natural England and put some environmental-friendly matting down at the top and planted trees but it wasn't enough.”
He believes that the fact the area falls within a Site of Special Scientific Interest means the authorities “have an excuse to not do anything”, but has called for wire cages filled with rocks to be put at the bottom of the cliffs to secure it.
He added: “If this was looked at earlier on and more was done, the cliff could have possibly been saved.
“People complain that the money could be put to better use in the community, but we are part of the community - that's what's wrong here.
“I don't want to move, anyone would give a million dollars for that view, this was supposed to be the last stop for me.”
A spokesman from Swale Borough Council said: “We met with local representatives and the Environment Agency to discuss erosion along this stretch of the Island.
“The new council administration have expressed their opposition to the current shoreline management plan approach where there is no active intervention to defend this area, and this position is due to be formalised when we are able to hold a full council meeting.
“In the intervening period, we have continued to engage with the Environment Agency to see what measures can be taken.”
The area is not the only part of the English coastline where homeowners are left in fear of their properties falling into the sea.
In January, a row of seaside caravans were left teetering on the brink of a cliff after a landslide the size of two football pitches near Cromer in Norfolk and the same month a huge chunk of cliff collapsed into the sea in Livermead, near Torquay, Devon.
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