A MAJOR clean up operation was under way in Malmesbury today as residents returned to homes devastated by Sunday’s flooding.

Members of the Warden and Freemen, who own many of the affected properties close to the town bridge were co-ordinating volunteers in a bid to help tenants clear their homes of soaked carpets and ruined possessions.

Flooding minister Richard Benyon called in to see the damage on Sunday and MP James Gray arrived this morning to see the clean up and talk to residents Mayor Ray Sanderson has launched an appeal to help affected residents replace lost possessions because many of them are unable to obtain insurance.

“I’ve never seen the water like that,” he said. “It was worse than 2007, it was just unbelievable.

Homes were inundated by up to 3ft of water after the river burst its banks early yesterday.

People who thought they had put their possessions out of reach of the water were horrified to see them floating around their ground flood rooms after their flood gates and sandbags were overwhelmed.

Tracey Tucker had to be rescued from her cottage when she suffered a serious asthma attack. “My medication was downstairs and I couldn’t get to it. I just didn’t know where I was or what I was doing,” she said.

She was escorted out by a fire crew through icy water that was groin deep.

David Whitby, who lives right alongside the river and canoes it regularly, had already experienced flooding just days before when several inches of water came into his home.

He had made platforms for his belongings, but when the water came over the garden wall his found his freezer floating in the kitchen.

“The water was coming up through the floor. You could actually hear it,” he said.

The town’s football club was also badly affected as were homes in Luckington, Minety and surrounding villages.