LONDON - Thousands of people are being evacuated from homes and properties along the eastern coast of England, amid severe flood warnings due to a storm surge.

The Environment Agency said the morning tide was not as high as expected but it has issued 11 severe flood warnings - meaning danger to life - for later.

An evacuation is under way in Jaywick, Essex, while an operation will begin in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk at 10:00 GMT.

The Environment Agency's severe flood warnings - its highest possible alert - are in place for coastal areas of Norfolk and Suffolk.

It said high tide levels - due to spring tides and a tidal surge - combined with gale force winds will cause "large waves and sea spray resulting in potential damage to flood defences and flooding of property".

The water peak is due in many areas at about 21:45 GMT. Dozens more flood warnings have been issued along the east coast.

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the first tide to hit the coast on Friday was "slightly under the height that we expected".

"The second, due this evening, may come out slightly higher than has been anticipated," he added.

"And so we will stay very active throughout the day on the ground, we will continue to warn and inform the communities that are at risk."

Ahead of the potential storm surge, police officers were going door-to-door in Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, to inform residents of the need to leave their homes. About 2,500 could be affected, officials have said.

Leaflets warned households their properties "could be flooded by sea water up to a depth of three metres".

About 5,000 properties near Great Yarmouth are to be evacuated from 10:00 GMT by police and the Army.

Further up the coast, the Ministry of Defence said about 100 soldiers from the Catterick army base had been deployed to Skegness, Lincolnshire, where about 3,000 residents have been urged to leave their homes or move upstairs.

Elsewhere in Lincolnshire, the Army remains on standby, while several schools are closed.

And in Suffolk, police said specific areas of the coast had been identified as being at high risk of flooding - taking in around 1,100 properties, which it said are likely to be evacuated.

The morning's high tide passed Scarborough, Bridlington, Hull and Skegness without incident. The Environment Agency said it was an "improving picture" but urged caution.