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By Chris Willmott Thursday 29 November 2012 Updated: 06/12 09:49
DEVASTATED residents in Dickens Heath are facing up to Christmas away from home after flood waters ravaged their apartments.
Between 10 and 15 apartments at Waterside and Waters Edge were deluged as the water 'came from out of nowhere' to blast through the communal hallways and into their homes - soaking and ruining anything up to six or seven inches off the ground.
The flooding caught homeowners unawares as it struck just after 5am on Sunday (November 25) - sweeping through their apartments in a matter of minutes while they lay asleep.
Sofas, furniture, carpets, rugs and electrical appliances were all wrecked by the dirty water, which turned the underground car parks into underwater car parks.
Forced to flee their homes, the residents will be homeless until after Christmas.
Those lucky enough to have family close by have turned to their relatives in their hour of need, while others not so lucky have been put up at a nearby hotel.
Duncan and Clare Kellett live with their three children in a ground floor apartment in Waterside, which was one of the worst affected (pictured).
"The water had been high on the Wednesday, but apart from flooding the field opposite - where Taylor Wimpey has just been given permission to build new homes - it didn't cause any trouble, and the maintenance team from the village were fabulous in pumping it away," said the 36-year-old Mercedes salesman.
"So when it came on Saturday night we were caught off-guard.
"We woke up to find our home under six or seven inches of water with so much of our stuff ruined."
Duncan and his family quickly salvaged what they could and packed their bags to go and live with family in nearby Earlswood.
"We are very lucky that we have family close by who we can stay with and the kids think it's a bit of a fun adventure," he added.
"To be honest we are very lucky in many ways as there is a lot worse that can happen to you - but it's still a headache we could do without."
Among other residents affected was one woman who had been on a Christmas present shopping spree in London that weekend whose gifts had all been ruined and another couple who had only just moved in so not sorted out their contents insurance.
With everyone safe and re-homed attentions are now turning to how the flooding was allowed to happen and why the village's flood alleviation measure didn't work.
Read next week's Observer to find out the answers.
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