RESIDENTS battled to protect their homes today (Sunday, March 10) after a water main burst and caused major flooding in a North-East town.

A number of homes in Darlington were flooded and hundreds left without water for hours as emergency services fought to control a torrent of fast flowing water on Parkside.

Many residents were forced to take to the street with sweeping brushes in a desperate bid to stop the water from entering their houses.

Bruce Watson, 48, was doing his best to control the water threatening to flood his home.

He said: “It’s like a river, I’m just trying to stop it coming in. I was just watching telly and was totally oblivious until my neighbour came round and told me. I’ve been sweeping for over an hour now. The drains around here have been bad for ages.”

Another resident said: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Police cordoned the road off and diverted traffic while fire crews tried to pump water away. Council officials  also attended the scene.

A representative from Darlington Borough Council said no homes had been evacuated.

He added: “We are here to give residents sand bags and try to help. Water has gone into some homes through air vents but we won’t know how many are affected until we have cleared the water and spoken to residents.”

A message left on the emergency helpline for suppliers Northumbria Water apologised for any inconvenience caused by the burst water main and said the company had representatives on the scene and were working towards a resolution to the problem.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “We have a burst water main on a large diameter pipe…We have shut down the section of pipe that is leaking and we are moving water around the network. We are bringing in water from surrounding areas to try and restore supplies."

She added: "We have to do it quite slowly, because if we do it quickly it can cause problems with the network…It is quite a delicate operation.”