Neighbours, firefighters and volunteers of Malmes-bury are banding together to start a major clean-up following flooding in the town last weekend.
Torrential rain caused the River Avon to flood in the early hours of Sunday morning, flooding the centre of town and at least a dozen houses.
Patricia Poating, 72, has been staying at White Lion Park since last week after receiving flood warnings. She said: “I left on Wednesday when it was pretty dodgy, stayed over the weekend and was luckily still there on Saturday.
“The television, carpets, washing machine, everything is gone. I’ve been living here for 40 years and 14 years ago it flooded but nothing as bad as this.”
Fire station watch manager Chris Harvey said: “It’s pretty much a clean-up operation now. Residents are getting dehumidifiers and drying out properties and seeing what belongings have been damaged.
“Houses are no longer in water and it’s now the community rallying together to help.”
Firefighters rescued four people from two houses in Malmesbury after it was hit by the worst flooding in 70 years.
Tracey Tucker, 39, has lived in St John Street for six years and had to be walked from her house by emergency services.
She said: “It was 2.30am. The water started coming in, and by 5am I didn’t want to go downstairs. Now we’re trying to empty the cupboards but we have to wait until the electrician comes because it’s too dark to see.”
Her partner, Stuart Causer, rushed to Malmesbury from his home in Westbury after hearing the news. He said: “Everything is destroyed. I thought it was a bit wet and there might be minor flooding but not like this.
“The water was lapping the front of the Rose and Crown. They were great; they had tea and coffee and gave Tracey a blanket to warm her up.”
Staff at the Rose and Crown, High Street, have been praised by victims, local people, emergency services and councillors for action taken at the weekend.
Landlady Carol Hudson said: “You just do it, don’t you? Some people were calm and some were panicky but they all helped push our car out of the flood.
“We offered tea and coffee – our door was open constantly.
“You all just pitch in and we have the biggest place this end of town so it’s just automatic to help out.
“I hope it gets sorted for them soon, it must be awful. We’re hoping for the best.”
A section of the High Street was cut off by the three-foot deep water from the River Avon on Sunday, and Flooding Minister Richard Benyon was in the town to see the damage caused.
A concert in aid of flood victims is being held on Saturday at the town hall for donations. Local group DJ Big Band will be performing from 7.30pm.
Terry Soule, of the historic Old Corporation of Malmesbury, said the flood seemed containable until 2.30am when the river broke across and engulfed St John’s Street where his daughter lives.
He said: “I’ve not known it so bad since the early 1960s. Since then they have put weirs in to allow a smooth flow of water but there was just so much storm water it has broken over.”
He said St John’s Street was under two feet of water.
The St John’s Street home of his daughter Karyn Anderson, where she lives with her son Ben, 11, was ruined: the new kitchen and carpets were saturated and a new washing machine was full of flood water.
But worst still was the old court house of the Old Corporation, where ancient flooring has been ruined.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us as a town,” he said.