A family evacuated from their flood-threatened home on the Somerset Levels have spoken of their heartbreak at returning to find the house ruined.
The Langfords – Jeremy, Caroline and daughter Katherine – were warned to leave their home in Moorland in the early hours of February 7. They have since been living with family 16 miles away in Butleigh, near Glastonbury, returning periodically as water levels fall.
Katherine, a 26-year-old Open University student, said returning to the "ghost village" had been "surreal". And while their home was damaged, they recognise there are others who are far worse off.
"The water level is now low enough it's not in the house any more," she said. "The carpets are still incredibly squelchy though and in places have gone green. There's muck everywhere.
"Even belongings out of the water have been damaged because of the damp. Our study is completely ruined. Everything is covered in mould. It's even all over the ceiling. We're hoping the piano might be able to be restored but it looks like it may be pretty badly damaged even though it was raised.
"There are long white strands of mould like spiders' webs so the room looks like it's been deserted for decades.
"There was a picture-frame of our childhood photos on the wall which I managed to rescue. The frame was covered in mould and there was condensation running down the inside of the frame but the photos were OK."
She added: "When we got inside the house there were still a few mugs left in the sink, birthday cards on the mantle-piece and a glass of water by the bed. It was a bit like the Marie Celeste as we'd had to leave in the middle of the night."
The family have been told that a repair period of six months "was rather optimistic". They are currently cataloguing their possessions and waiting for a decisions from their insurers on what might be able to be salvaged.
"Some of the furniture might be restorable," Katherine said. "I think we managed to raise some of it up high enough so a few things will hopefully be OK. We're going to need a new fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, boiler, kitchen cupboards and sofa – even our front gate has rotted. We're one of the higher houses that has flooded so I hate to think what some of the other properties are like."
The family have previously complained about the lack of information from official bodies and whether pledges to find a long-term solution will be kept. There is now a 20-year action plan to safeguard the Levels, with millions of pounds of Government funding to back it up, but the Langfords remain to be convinced.
"At the moment there is also considerable concern regarding where the Environment Agency is going to be able to find the money to keep dredging the rivers.
"They said previously they didn't have the money so nobody seems to know where they're going to find the money to maintain the rivers after the Government had paid for the initial dredge. As well as clearing up we're going to be worrying whether the Government and Environment Agency are going to make good on their promises," she said.