KITCHEN fitter Steve Ralph has been hailed a hero after saving people and their beloved pets from devastating floods that caused havoc in Spain.

He leapt into action when rising waters threatened the lives of pets and animals at a sanctuary.

It followed days of torrential rain in southern Spain near Steve's Alicante home, which saw reservoirs’ flood gates opened because they were too full.

That saw millions of litres of water cascade into nearby towns and villages.

The kitchen fitter, along with his friend Brian, saved 27 animals from neighbours and a local animal sanctuary.

“On the first day we went to Big Reds, the animal rescue, and helped the owner who was trapped inside.” Steve said

“We took a rubber dingy, with me at the back and my friend at the front, the water was 9ft deep at this point.

“We saved six cats, in two crates, then we brought 12 dogs back one by one in the dingy.

“The owner was worried they would attack me, but all the dogs were just licking my face. They knew we were trying to save them.

“The next day we helped an 80-year-old lady and her three cats, then the day after that we rescued six dogs from my friend's house. By that time we had quite the reputation.”

Steve added: “There was absolute devastation, it was like something out of the movies.

“The water was knee-high in our villa, we lost everything.

“A friend put us up but then his own house was flooded.

“Rather than sit around doing nothing, we thought we had better go out and help people.”

Steve has lived in Alicante for more than six years after moving to be closer to his mum who has lived in Spain for 14.

Despite his heroics, Steve, 41, was surprised his actions gained much attention: “I’m quite shocked, to be honest” he added: “We didn’t want to watch people struggle. But everybody loved the help and they were grateful for it.

“The water has subsided now, lucky the water in our own house dropped quickly but others are worse off.

“Our whole house is full of mud but we’ve moved back in there now, because we don’t have any other choice.

“We have mattresses on floor and no cupboards but at least everyone is safe.”

At least five people were killed with 3,500 evacuated from their homes after the flash floods hit the area.

Steve said: “The aftermath of the horrendous flooding is clear to see.

“Mountains of people’s life possessions are piled up in the streets, homeless people are being given by Spanish residents who they don’t even know.

“Had it not been for the bravery and care of the Guardia Civil, local police and hundreds of volunteers, the outcome could have been far worse.”