A FAMILY who were evacuated from their Barnstaple home which was at risk of flooding have spoken about their ordeal.
Alan Vickery, 40, and his partner Nicola Thorne, 45, together with his daughter Bethany, 17, and her son Bradley, 22, had to leave their house at Claude Dix Close on Saturday night.
They were among hundreds of people who were told to move to safety after the River Yeo broke its banks.
A refuge centre was set up at Pilton community College but Nicola and Alan, together with Bradley, went to her father's home at Littabourne, Pilton for the night.
Bethany was dropped off at her grandparents' home at Filleigh.
Their ordeal began around 7.30pm when an automated phone call from the Environment Agency warned them to get their possessions to a higher level.
They put as much as they could upstairs in their two bedrooms.
Another message followed at 9pm telling them to prepare for evacuation and within 20 minutes the police were at their door.
Of particular concern was the effect a high tide could have on already swollen river levels.
A nearby resident who had been monitoring the river said it was rising at a rate of one foot an hour.
Nicola said: "I have lived here 18 years and this is the first time I have seen everybody move their stuff upstairs on the two estates, Raleigh Meadow and Greenmeadow Drive. You are thinking, what do you move first?"
Alan said: "You see the speed of the water and your imagination runs riot. We have always tried to keep a stiff upper lip but in this instance it was very frightening."
Nicola said: "I don't even feel like Christmas. Everything has got turned upside down."
The presents are still at her father's house where they will be spending Christmas day.
They have brought all the stuff back down from their bedrooms but are concerned about whether they have done the right thing.
With more rain forecast they are understandably nervous.
If there is any silver lining to the experience it is the fact it brought the community together. Alan said: "There was a real sense of community spirit.
"There were people standing on the bridge saying are you all right and letting you know that help was there."
A friend of Nicola's from Roundswell also turned up on Saturday night, offering to lend a hand.
Alan said: "It was humbling. He was really worried for us."