Towns and villages along England’s east coast have escaped significant flooding after a change in wind direction prevented a storm surge. More than 5,000 homes were evacuated in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, amid fears of a tidal surge, but the town was unscathed. There are currently no severe flood warnings – meaning risk to life – but 148 other alerts and warnings remain. Residents in parts of the Suffolk coast have been told it is safe to return. Suffolk Police said people in Lowestoft could go back to their homes. Residents were braced as gale-force winds and higher than usual tides were expected to bring waves crashing over coastal defences along the east coast. Environment Agency said things were not as bad as predicted because the “combination of the peak surge, strongest winds and largest waves didn’t coincide in all areas, and did not reach the most dangerous levels that were possible all along the east coast”.