Residents of houses devastated by last week’s flooding in Malmesbury have been evacuated to safety, and their homes emptied.

Torrential rain caused the River Avon to burst its bank on November 25 and properties near the town bridge were among the worst hit.

Terry Soule, of the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury, said: “All houses from the bridge right round the corner to number 25 and 27 were flooded.Everything under the water, which was black water, has been discarded.

“It’s going to be about six months until people can get their properties back together. They’ve all got dehumidifiers in at the moment and they’ll need remedial work – they’ll certainly have to get new kitchens.

“As an organisation we’ve found accommodation for all those who’ve needed us to find it for them. We’re aiming on moving forwards as quickly as possible, but it’s going to be a long job.”

Around a dozen properties were flooded, triggering a major clean-up operation.

Dehumidifiers have now been put into each of the empty houses to dry them out as quickly as possible.

Karyn Anderson, who has lived in St John’s Street for more than two years with her teenage son Ben, said: “Everything is gone. I’ve lost everything that was downstairs because it was black, contaminated water.

“I had a phone call at around 2.20am on the Sunday to say there was floodwater in the car park and I alerted others. When water started coming in the house it seemed like it was coming from nowhere – some of it was coming up through the floor. Now we’ve got a dehumidifier in the kitchen but everything’s been ripped out – the council has been marvellous.”

Ms Anderson and her son are staying with her parents, who also live in Malmesbury.

Community organisation HEALS donated takings from its stall at the Christmas fair on Friday and also plans to give funds raised by its Christmas appeal. Chairman Alison Cross Jones said: “The Christmas appeal was for people in need, and at the moment the people with floods are most in need so it makes sense. The appeal runs until December 10 so may be topped up, but the payment we gave to the mayor this week was for £379.44.”

Malmesbury Young Farmers are donating £7,500 from fundraising events to Mayor Ray Sanderson’s appeal for flood victims.