TWENTY years ago this week Ryedale was hit by a second devastating flood in less than two years.

Rains brought floods that swamped homes and businesses and cut off residents in a number of communities.

Devastated householders in Norton, who had been hit hard by the March 1999 flooding, had their homes once again ruined by flooding.

Most of the land bordering the River Derwent was flooded and the town came to a standstill. The impact was felt by dozens of families and businesses with more than 100 properties flooded.

The River Derwent hit an all-time flooding peak in Malton and Norton at 19 metres deep, 3.5 metres higher than the average for the time of year. The figure broke the previous highest level of 18.6 metres, which was recorded during the floods of 1931.

Following the 2000 floods, a campaign group was set up involving residents and businesses affected calling for urgent action to help prevent further flooding.

Norton resident Howard Keal, who with his wife Di led the campaign for flood defences, said: “Twenty years on from the major floods I still grimace when I see rain splash the windows.

“Straight away you worry about the level of the river, even though we now have £10.5 million of protection in place for Norton, Malton and Old Malton.

“Our anxiety stems from the fact that although we won the battle for defences, the fight to provide adequate level of protection has never gone away.

“We managed to gain some improvements like pipes being put under the level crossing to pump water away in future deluges.

“Our house was flooded to a depth of four feet the second time we were hit – the toxic stew of silt and sewage destroyed everything it touched.

“We were unable to live at home for nine months while repairs were completed, including replacing plaster to shoulder level throughout the ground floor and replacing the whole kitchen.

“It’s almost impossible to imagine the level of destruction until you’ve had to go through a flood. We don’t want to ever have to face another big flood.”