DAYS of heavy rain saw homes and businesses in Malton and Norton battling against water flooding out of drains and rising underground springs.

Last Tuesday evening, residents living in St Nicholas Street and Welham Road, Norton, watched in horror as their gardens were swamped with filthy water spilling out of overflowing drains.

They believe Yorkshire Water workers had failed to turn off a valve which forced more water through the drainage system, which was made worse by the breakdown of a pump at Beck Mill.

By Wednesday morning the River Derwent had risen to near capacity, kept at bay by the £9 million flood defences stretching along the embankment.

Among those waking up to gardens flooded with sewage and water were Brendan and Olga Corcoran, who bought their home in St Nicholas Street just five months ago.

"The big worry was that it was going to come up to the house," said Olga.

"It was touch and go for a while but fortunately it only affected the garden, which was a foot and a half under water."

Residents praised workers from Ryedale District Council who delivered sandbags and disinfectant kits to affected homes.

Council workers used pumping equipment to drain water from four homes on St Nicholas Street, which prevented the water damaging Derwent Terrace.

But this was a duty which should have been carried out by Yorkshire Water according to local councillor Howard Keal, whose garden and outbuildings were also swamped with polluted water.

He said: "Yorkshire Water has some serious questions to answer about how it handles this emergency.

"We rang the call centre to alert them to the situation and they don't even have a clue where Norton is, which is the first stumbling block. We still haven't heard from anybody from the company."

In a statement a spokeswoman for Yorkshire Water said: "Yorkshire Water's pumping stations and sewers worked as they were designed to do during the recent heavy rainfall in Norton. We are confident that the flooding experienced by residents was in no way linked to a Yorkshire Water pumping station, but resulted from rising water levels in the nearby beck.

A temporary pump had to be drafted in after one of the pumps at Mill Beck, which is now owned by the Environment Agency, broke down.

Local residents said the pump, which forces excess water into the River Derwent, had not been working for a number of days.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: "The high water levels of the river meant that it was difficult for us to work out which pump was not working. However as we discovered which pump at Mill Beck was not working, within hours we drafted in two temporary pumps to deal with the situation."

Veteran flood victim Syd Youngson discovered water was lapping round the foundations of his home on Welham Road last Wednesday.

But after moving into his Victorian terrace 40 years ago it's something he said he has learned to live with.

The 70-year-old said: "It would have been far worse without the flood defences. We moved into this house the day Winston Churchill died and the house was flooded that back end - it's something we are well used to by now."

On Thursday homes and businesses on Castlegate, Sheepfoot Hill and Kings Mill flats were battling against a different flooding threat - underground springs bubbling up to the surface after the water table started to rise in the area.

Timberland, Firestation Pre-School and homes on Castlegate were all affected and fire crews from Malton and Huntington near York helped pump away hundreds of gallons of water.