Keith Porter of Davies Chartered Loss Adjusters in Maidstone almost became a victim of the recent floods himself when he found himself battling against strong currents as he tried to reach a house in Isfield near Uckfield in East Sussex.

"I was wading down a flooded road that had been turned into a river when I was nearly washed off my feet. It was all pretty scary and after a battle I managed to reach the claimants who were still in their house," he said.

"They were remarkably calm considering the devastation and had managed to move much of the furniture upstairs. It was also the first time I have ever seen fish swimming around in a kitchen. It was quite bizarre."

Many of the new homes the government is planning to build will be built on floodplains.