THE mayor of Appleby has told the Gazette she feels "immensely proud" of how residents "stood together" when Storm Ciara battered the town on Sunday.

It is thought at least 30 homes and several businesses including the Co-op grocery store flooded when the River Eden burst its banks, reviving grim memories of the havoc brought by Storm Desmond in December 2015.

Appleby's primary and secondary schools have been closed this week as a precaution against water supply problems. The town's two churches escaped a repeat of 2015.

As Storm Ciara approached, townsfolk and volunteers from Appleby Emergency Response Group worked tirelessly through the night to knock on doors, put up flood defences and deliver sandbags to at-risk properties.

Cllr Gareth Hayes, secretary of the response group, said the town was just "inches away" from a flood on the scale of Storm Desmond. Surging water forced some doors open and got into houses despite four-feet-high floodgates, he said. The properties hit were mostly on The Sands and Holme Street, and residents had put their own evacuation plans into practice.

"I walked on a grassy bank at 9am, and at 1pm the water was in people's houses," said Cllr Hayes. The town is now dotted with skips as residents clear out sodden belongings.

"I think people are sick and tired of being sick and tired," he said of the town's flood history.

"Now there's a new storm [Dennis] coming. There's been an anxiety level for the last four years. We know the river is in charge."

The town's mayor, Cllr Jilly Dixon-Dougherty, told the Gazette she felt "immensely proud" to represent "a community that pulls together and supports each other at times of crises".

"The support of the residents, the town council, emergency services and the Appleby Emergency Response Group is quite inspirational," she said.

"The effects of Storm Ciara were far worse than we expected; we did not expect to be close to the levels reached during 2015 Storm Desmond. Several homes and properties were flooded, although having learnt lessons from 2015 the damage was significantly less as people are now more prepared and resilient.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Appleby Emergency Response Group for its great work in implementing the response plan and overseeing a great coordinated team that certainly helped minimise the impact of the flooding.

"Once again the people of Appleby stood together untied in a common cause to protect the town and its residents."

Town, district and county councillor Andy Connell said people were "better prepared" than four years ago and praised the efforts of volunteers. He said it was "tragic" for the residents who had to "go through it all again with the clean-up, insurance and all that anxiety".