Hundreds of households and businesses were today counting the multi-million pound cost of the worst flooding in 50 years.

The floods swept along the Aire Valley leaving a trail of destruction in Skipton, Keighley, Bingley, Shipley, Baildon, Esholt and Apperley Bridge yesterday.

Scores of people had to flee or be rescued from their homes after days of heavy rain caused the River Aire to rise more than 11ft above normal.

One woman was swept away by torrents of water in Otley Road, Baildon, but managed to grab hold of a hoarding. She was seen by a member of the public and firefighters and police managed to throw her a line. She was dragged unconscious to safety.

Another woman collapsed on a bridge at the back of British Mohair Spinners in Shipley at 1.30pm after suffering an anxiety attack. Both women were airlifted to Airedale General Hospital.

Police were also patrolling the Stockbridge area in Keighley last night to protect houses which had had to be evacuated for fears of looters.

City centre workers who tried to return home last night came to a virtual standstill in Shipley, Keighley and Bingley as roads were blocked with some people's journeys taking more than three hours.

And today all rail services were suspended on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.

Flood warnings were still in force today for homes and businesses in the Skipton, Crossflatts, Bingley, Shipley, Apperley Bridge and Horsforth areas.

Bradford Council opened Victoria Hall in Saltaire to cater for people unable to get home due to the closure of Baildon Bridge, and Bingley Arts Centre also opened to welcome evacuees.

David Dinsey from Bingley Town Centre Management visited the area with police and fire officers after homes in Old Main Street, Bingley, were evacuated yesterday morning, as was the White Horse Pub.

"People at the Arts Centre were given blankets, dry clothes, food and counselling," said Mr Dinsey. "Most of the first to arrive were elderly and quite traumatised."

Farmer George Emmott who farms next to the River Aire at Steeton, lost four Friesian cows as the flood waters engulfed his grazing land. The animals bolted in panic on to the Aire Valley trunk road and were hit by cars.

David Kennedy, assistant chief executive of Bradford Council, said council staff had been working since Monday evening with the emergency services to support people whose properties had been affected.

He said: "Up to 200 people have been evacuated from their homes. We are continuing to assess the situation."

The Island Bridge area of Bingley was also hit by floods as were properties at the bottom of Ferrand Lane and the Castlefields area.

Baildon Bridge was closed and was expected to remain so until at least lunchtime today.

Harrogate Road, which crosses Apperley Bridge, was reopened after a short closure. The A650 Keighley to Bingley road was passable but flooded in parts, and local diversions were put in place.

Local roads around Baildon - such as Coach Road - had also been closed and traffic on the A658 to Yeadon was being diverted.

At Apperley Bridge, the George and Dragon Hotel had flooded cellars.

Brian Slater, of Aireside, Cononley, had 2ft 6in of water in his home which wrecked the carpets, furniture and electrical items.

"We just don't know how to feel," he said. "Nothing like this has ever happened before and we have been warned there could be more floods tonight."

Another of those evacuated was Kathleen Hudson, 58, who was born in Keighley but now lives in Geneva and was staying with her elderly aunt in Stockbridge on Monday night.

"I can't believe I was only here for one night and this has happened," she said. "We got a flood warning call at 3am and had to wade out of the house at 9.30am. It's very well organised and we're being well looked after."

Esholt resident Bob Wilkinson was happily marooned in Esholt Sports and Leisure Club as rising flood-water pushed them into the bar area upstairs. He said some of the village had been evacuated. "We've been here since noon and it's about 4ft deep," he said.

In Esholt, Yorkshire Water opened its sewage treatment site for traffic to pass through on its way to and from Bradford in a bid to ease congestion.

The heavy rains have caused havoc for the Environment Agency which was trying to carry out emergency running repairs on damaged flood defences.