PEOPLE who had to be evacuated during the Buckskin flooding crisis may not be able to return to their homes for up to a year.

Sovereign Housing Association is waiting for the homes to dry out before insurers assess the properties and repairs are carried out.

A total of 41 of the housing association’s homes were evacuated in the Basingstoke suburb when groundwater rose in February, flooding the properties.

Sovereign still has 19 families in temporary accommodation, waiting to return to their homes.

Thirty of the homes have been cleared of carpets and flood-damaged items. But Luke Bingham, Sovereign’s regional director for Hampshire, said they could take months to dry out.

He added: “The homes were flooded for a prolonged period, and they could take months to dry out, after which we will be able to assess the extent of the damage and carry out repairs.

“We are keeping our residents informed about progress and as soon as each home is brought back up to a good standard we’ll get them home. Realistically, however, it could be up to a year before the last resident is able to move back.”

Some families have taken the decision to accept accommodation elsewhere, and 12 households have moved to permanent homes.

Rose and Steve Hasted were evacuated from their home in Quantock Close on February 18, and have now been re-housed in a bungalow in South Ham. The couple had lived in their Buckskin home for 19 years.

Mrs Hasted, 52, said: “We loved it there. My husband kept the garden nice and everybody commented on the house and garden. We spent a lot of time on it. We made it a home.”

She added: “Once the water came in, it just didn’t stop. We saved clothing and photographs but the big furniture was gone. It was heartbreaking.”

Dawn and Lee Burn and their two children are still living in temporary accommodation.

The couple, both 45, had been in the process of buying the bungalow which had been their home for 19 years.

After living in a room at the Apollo Hotel, they moved into a Sovereign home in Black Dam three weeks ago.

Dawn said: “We lost everything. We had to throw it all out in the end. I lost all my photos. It came up to about 18 inches in the house, but it got everywhere – even the lampshades and all the clothes hanging in the wardrobe were ruined. It was devastation.”

She praised Sovereign for keeping the family updated, adding: “Considering this has never happened before, I feel they’ve gone above and beyond their duty.”

The housing association put in place an assistance package for flood-affected residents, including emergency accommodation, food vouchers, assistance with transport to schools, meeting removal costs and a 24-hour emergency phone line.