Steve Hayman has worked for the Environment Agency (and its predecessor organisations) for 40 years, covering a range of roles including managing river and sea defence projects, mainly across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Steve, a chartered civil engineer, who is currently senior coastal advisor, said:
I feel very fortunate that I was entrusted with a range of important engineering works, which included the Colne Barrier in Essex and major sea and tidal defence schemes at Heacham/Hunstanton, Wells, Sea Palling, Great Yarmouth, Aldeburgh, Felixstowe, Parkeston and Clacton/Jaywick.
Since 2010, his role has been liaising with local authorities and other organisations to implement sustainable policies along the Norfolk coast.
Steve believes the biggest change over the years has been the advances in technology, which has improved the service the EA provides, especially when it comes to dealing with flooding incidents. He said:
My early introduction to the risks we face around our coast was a major tidal surge in January 1978. The extent of the flood risk only really became apparent as we monitored the rising tide about 4 hours before high water at Wells. Even then, our ability to warn members of the public relied mainly on limited telephone communication with the local police.
By comparison, in a similar event we experienced in December 2013, with the benefit of accurate computer forecasts, we were preparing with our partners days in advance of the flood itself. We were able to keep people informed through the local media and by regularly updating flooding predictions on our website and we also now have the capability to issue warnings directly to households within areas at risk.
The East coast surge in December 2013 was the most serious event of its kind in 60 years. Unfortunately 500 homes and businesses were flooded across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex but the advances in flood warning and improvements made to the sea defences prevented the devastating consequences experienced in 1953. EA defences protected more than 68,000 properties.
Steve was heavily involved taking part in media interviews throughout the day and night. Subsequently he took on the role of flood ambassador for Norfolk, working with affected communities, local authorities and partners for up to a year after the event.
He said it is his colleagues he will miss the most, and retirement will consist of tackling long-promised jobs around the house and garden, as well managing two small building projects.
Mark Johnson, Area Coastal Manager, said:
Steve has given 40 years loyal service to the EA and its predecessor organisations. He is a true gentleman and font of coastal knowledge. The trust he has built up with partners is something for all to aspire to. We all wish Steve a long and healthy retirement.