A review is to be carried out of Keighley's flood warning and defence schemes, it was announced last night.

The Environment Agency made the promise after complaints from residents, mainly in the Stockbridge area.

As more heavy rain was forecast, residents forced to evacuate their Keighley homes by the worst flooding to hit the area in half a century were told it could take between four and 12 months to make their homes habitable.

Graham Thompson, area manager for Social Services in Keighley, made the announcement at a public briefing in Victoria Hall attended by some of the 400 people who had to evacuate their Stockbridge homes.

But he pledged that the council would work with agencies to provide as much back-up as possible.

He added that Keighley Leisure Centre would continue operating as a refuge for as long as necessary, with bedding also available if required.

A mobile information centre will also be set up in the leisure centre car park.

Home and business owners returning to their flood-hit properties in Stock-bridge yesterday were left counting the massive cost of the damage caused by the torrential floods of the past week.

Mr Thompson said: "Our priority is to get people back in their homes or ensure they have alternative accommodation."

"Forty nine adults and 29 children have been housed in emergency accommodation organised by Bradford council, with more vulnerable people being cared for at Ingrow Green Nursing Home.

The rest of the homeless have been put up in hotels by their insurance companies or are staying with friends and family.

"We are meeting with colleagues from the Environment Agency about the clean up and we are in contact with Environmental Health and Airedale Primary Care Trust to address concerns about possible disease," says Mr Thompson.

"From their experience of dealing with floods in the Calder valley the Environment Agency says it could take anything between four and 12 months for properties to be properly habitable.

"We are in the process of identifying local residents who might need other accommodation for that period of time.

"The position at the moment is it looks like we will be able to accommodate everyone. The quality will vary, but we are trying to get accommodation as accessible as possible to the Keighley area.

"We are also making arrangements for people's rubbish and unusable household items to be taken away.

"Our advice for people with insurance is to contact their insurers and check first before throwing things out. We are also asking those who aren't insured to come forward and contact us."

He added that the council will provide help for those seeking to clean up their homes or to pump any excess water out.

A special council floodline has been set up and can be contacted on 01535 618399.

Yorkshire Electricity has restored power to 100 homes and is continuing work to restore power to another 200.

A spokesman said: "If people are going back into their homes we would ask them not to touch anything electrical and to call us on 0800 375675 so we can come out and restore their supply."

Deputy leader of Bradford council Richard Wightman praised the efforts of council and social services staff, Airedale NHS Trust, Airedale Primary Care Trust, the utilities and local businesses.

Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Stanley King praised the people of Keighley when he visited Victoria Hall on Wednesday.

He said: "It's a tribute to the people who have been affected that they are so philosophical about it, because they have suffered a lot of damage and it's going to take a long while to sort it out."

Harry Farrar, 60, from Florist Street, was one of the residents returning to assess the extent of the damage to his house yesterday morning.

He said: "It got into my cellar but it hasn't got into my house so it doesn't seem that bad, but with more rain forecast we don't know what's going to happen next."

Cllr Andrew Mallinson, whose Keigh-ley North Ward includes Stockbridge, said: "We've just never had anything like this before - the scale of it is just beginning to unfold now as people go back to their homes, and a lot probably aren't going to be able to live in them for months.

"Our priority is housing, but in the future the whole flood-plain question needs to be looked at.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "The catchment area is so saturated at the moment that any rainfall isn't being soaked up.

"Though little rain fell overnight on Wednesday, the situation across Yorkshire is still critical with hundreds of people still unable to return to flooded homes.

"More heavy rain - up to 20 mm - is forecast over the next 24 hours, and members of the public are asked to be vigilant and keep themselves updated of the latest river levels and flood risk by calling Floodline on 08459 881188."

Keighley and District Travel is running services on all its routes, but says there may be changes to its normal timetable if the weather deteriorates again.

Managing director Stuart Wilde praised all his staff at "Courageous Keighley" for keeping services running.

Up-to-date information on rail travel and Northern Spirit services can be obtained by phoning national rail enquiries on 08457484950 or by logging onto the website www.nationrail.co.uk