A HUGE clean-op operation began yesterday after flood defences failed to stop damage to dozens of homes and businesses in North Yorkshire.

Firefighters remained in Gilling West, near Richmond , for a second day with water still a foot high in several homes.

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Despite recent flood defence works, villagers estimated that a third of the properties had suffered damage.

Michael and Jennie Gauntlett have lived in the village for 22 years, but have never been flooded before.

At its height, water was up to the third step on the stairs of their two-storey cottage.

Mr Gauntlett, 72, who was gathering posessions before the couple moved to their daughter’s home yesterday, said: “It’s come up the patio before, but never inside.”

At the other end of the village, the home of Dawn Webster, 58, curator at Kiplin Hall, was also flooded.

She said: “I moved as much furniture and books as I could upstairs on Monday night.

“The water was coming up through the stone floor which I found really scary.”

Residents criticised lorry drivers who took a detour through the village, causing bow waves several feet high.

Chris Pye said he tried to get vehicles to slow down through the village, but he added: “They just ignored it.”

Several villagers suggested that the police should have closed the village to all traffic to limit damage to property.

There were similar complaints in Catterick Village, where vehicles coming off the closed A1 were blamed for adding to the problem.

The village has also had flood defence work carried out in recent years.

Claire Burgess, owner of The Village Cafe, said water poured into her premises on Tuesday morning.

Joe Bench, from Catterick Village Pet Supplies, used bags of wild bird seed to keep water out of his shop.

He praised the efforts of villagers to help their stricken neighbours, adding: “We even had young teenagers putting sandbags out for people.”

Several homes in the High Street were flooded, with a report that one couple had to rescue their two Great Dane dogs through their kitchen window.

Daylight revealed that a bridge in Scorton, near Catterick Garrison, had partially collapsed.

County council officials were last night aiming to have a temporary bridge in place within five days.

A spokeswoman said the original stone bridge had survived, but it was a newer extension which had collapsed.

Details emerged yesterday of how stranded motorists, including a bus party of children from the Hermitage Academy, in Chester-le-Street , were put up at Marne Barracks, Catterick Village, on Tuesday.

In nearby Hunton, 15 soldiers from 1st Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, from Catterick Garrison, stopped a 2,000-litre diesel tank from overturning, before distributing 200 sandbags.

The Highways Agency last night said it was concerned that lorry drivers were ignoring official diversions and taking sat nav-advised or other unofficial local routes.

A spokesman said: “Some local authorities are concerned about local routes and villages being clogged up by LGV traffic, causing heavy washing in some areas and also hampering local authorities’ efforts to clear flood water from their own routes.”

􀁧 People in Croft and Hurworth escaped any serious flood damage.

Hurworth Place and Croft bridge, both closed on Tuesday, reopened yesterday though traffic lights remained at Eryholme rail bridge, near Croft, due to a damaged road surface caused by floods.

Neasham Road, between Hurworth Moor and Neasham was still closed, but Middleton Lane, from Middleton St George to Middleton One Row, was open.