A COUPLE who stayed put after groundwater flooding devastated scores of homes in the Buckskin area of Basingstoke, have spoken of their six-month struggle to return to normality.

A total of 87 homes were evacuated when groundwater seeped into houses in the Blackdown Close area of Buckskin from February 8 this year.

A recent report, commissioned by Hampshire County Council, concluded that a dormant spring, activated by weeks of heavy rain, was a key factor in the flooding.

The sewage-contaminated water took nearly two months to clear and some families have still not been able to return to their homes.

One couple, John O’Brien and Tina Carrington, decided to stay in their house, despite water flooding almost all of their bungalow in Exmoor Close in early March.

“John came to pick some washing up to bring to my daughter’s, and he called me and said: ‘We have been hit – it is everywhere’,” Tina told The Gazette.

“We were constantly mopping from 7pm to 7am. The worst part was the smell. and we weren’t eating properly.

“The council asked us to leave three times, and asked us to sign a declaration to say we had chosen to stay. We had a bag packed in case it got bad. There was only one time we were about to go, and after five hours of mopping, I was in tears.”

John, 47, who is a warehouse team leader at Midland Chilled Food, added: “I was coming home at 1am or 2am from work, and when you are living in one room and have dogs barking, it is hard not to wake people up.”

But after 15 weeks of building work on their home, which included the installation of a new kitchen, flooring throughout the house and the redecoration of all but one room, the couple nearly have their home back to normal.

The bad news is they had to pay £7,000 on top of insurance claims to carry out the work, are currently behind on their mortgage payments and doubt whether their lives will ever return to normal.

Tina said: “I am a pretty strong person but even I had a couple of meltdowns. We are sitting on a knife-edge every time it rains and we are thinking ‘is it going to happen again?’ “We have got rid of a third of our stuff because we can’t shift everything if it happens again.

“I wanted double glazing to seal everything to give us a chance, but why should we pay out for double glazing if we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future?”

The couple are even seeking legal advice in an attempt to bring some closure to their ordeal. Tina added: “The solicitor is based in Bristol and had a case against Thames Water concerning sewage, and won the case.

“I am going to go to him first and if he can’t help us, I am going to ask him to point us in the right direction because I feel no-one is getting to the bottom of this.”