FAMILIES forced to leave their waterlogged homes have described the flood as being "like a tsunami".

Shocked residents on Eanleywood Lane in Runcorn woke up shortly before 7am on Sunday to discover a river gushing down their street.

A 24-inch water main burst in a field near Norton Water tower, causing the flood and leaving thousands of residents across Runcorn without water.

Julian Smallman, whose home was saturated under a deluge of water, said: "It was like a tsunami when it first came down. A wave came down the road.

"It was going so fast, it was like watching a river going past."

A noise woke him up.

"I heard a loud bang and went outside. The power of the water had knocked all the wheelie bins over.

"Everything was floating around. It lifted the drains, there was water everywhere."

Julian and his wife Yvonne struggled to try and stem the tide with towels but to no avail.

"We tried blocking the doors with towels but it was useless because there was so much water coming in," he said. "We were in a lake."

The couple and their daughter are now staying in a hotel as the flood left a trail of destruction in their home.

Their three piece suite was destroyed and all their appliances including a freezer, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher had to be thrown away.

Laminate floor has been ripped up because water got beneath it and skirting boards have been damaged.

Brickwork outside the house and a patio were also dislodged from the force of the flood.

Dryers and de-humidifiers are now in all the downstairs rooms trying to dry them out.

"They say it could take at least 10 days," said Julian.

It's not just furniture and property that was damaged by water.

"One of our neighbours was in tears," added Julian. "They are a young family who only recently moved in. They are worried they may have lost their wedding and family photographs as they had been storing them in the garage which was flooded."

Julian has nothing but praise for the squad sent in by United Utilities to clear up all the damage.

"I can't praise this company enough for the way they have looked after us," he said.

"All our neighbours have also been wonderful. Everyone rallied round.

"People were bringing us tea and toast and offering to let us go into their homes.

"There was a great community spirit."

A 53-year-old neighbour, whose home was also flooded, recalled how he spotted the burst pipe and raised the alarm.

He said:"I was out walking my dog when I saw it erupt. It was like a huge fountain, about four foot high on the horse's field.

"I reported it and couldn't believe it when I got back and saw my home flooded.

"There was water everywhere- in my living room ,dining room and kitchen.

"But at least no one was hurt and everything can be repaired."

United Utilities say they have got people onsite and are doing everything they can to help residents who were affected by the flood.