Flood victims along the Thames face a frustrating six-month wait before they can return to their ruined homes.
More than 1,000 properties in Surrey are thought to have been flooded in recent weeks with thousands more affected in some way.
Many householders have started to empty their homes and look for temporary accommodation.
Phil Vinson from Staines lost both of his cars and his home when the Thames burst its banks. He said his insurers had told him his house is unlikely to be habitable for six moths.
Experts say it could take three months for properties to dry out before any building and decorating can take place.
One couple in the same street were close to tears as they watched workmen rip apart their £3,000 oak floor.
Another Staines resident Julie Fox said she was already viewing properties in the hope of renting a temporary home but feared demand would outstrip supply.
In Egham, Henry Harris said he was "gutted" as his beloved BMW was loaded on to a car transporter alongside other written-off vehicles.