It was when insurance assessors told widow Denise Maxwell they were taking possession of her home that the devastating reality of the floods hit home.

Denise has lived in her house in Reeth for 41 years, many of them with her beloved husband, and recently with her seven dogs and three donkeys. Now she has been driven out by the slime, mud and sewage that flooded through when the beck behind burst its banks.

She’s been searching for temporary accommodation that can offer a home to her and her seven French bulldogs.

"I can’t put them in kennels, I just won’t do it. The insurance people told me they were taking possession of the house, I could go in to get a few bits and pieces but otherwise they are taking it over and it will take between six to eight months before I can come back. That was when it really hit me that they were taking possession of my home, I did shed a few tears then because it is so hard to have to leave.

"It’s absolutely heartbreaking. The dogs are upset because they don’t know what is going on it is their home too. I wasn’t here when the floods hit, I was in Fremington, a neighbour managed to get the dogs upstairs to safety, I couldn’t get back for hours.

"They said it was just a tidal wave of water and mud coming through. I have been staying upstairs but now I have to leave, we have been told by Yorkshire Water not to drink the water, there was sewage coming down the street.

"I have lived in this house since 1978, I was 21 and this was the first home my husband and I had, I just can’t believe I have to go. Like many others I have lost so many treasured things, photographs of my dead husband, they were on the mantlepiece and they have just been ruined, I can never get them back."

Mrs Maxwell’s three donkeys were in a field at the back of the house, luckily they were on higher ground when the storm struck and decided to stay put when the fencing was swept away with just enough time for Swaledale Fell Rescuers to build a makeshift barrier to keep them in.

"I have never seen anything like this," said Mrs Maxwell. "We were here when Hurricane Charlie struck over twenty years ago it wasn’t as bad as this, it has been awful."