SIX months ago this week Herefordshire was decimated by some of the worst floods in living memory after the river Wye reached its highest ever level.

Flood defences took a battering, with more than 100 homes and businesses directly affected with water coming inside.

People were forced to flee their homes and communities came together to deal with the immediate aftermath of Storm Dennis, which hit on Saturday, February 15.

More than 200 people were rescued during the floods as about 80 local roads became impassable during the aftermath of the torrential rain that battered the county.

At least 405 residential and 102 business properties are understood to have been affected by February's flooding.

Greyfriars Avenue

One of the worst affected streets in Hereford when the river Wye burst its banks was Greyfriars Avenue, with just one of 17 homes escaping unscathed.

Tony Williams, a junior charge nurse at Hereford County Hospital, is still waiting for walls to dry out following the flooding.

Work to repair damage from Storm Dennis has also been delayed by the insurance company and the coronavirus pandemic, but the 52-year-old is trying to remain positive despite the continual setbacks.

"It's still quite a struggle. We still have rooms to do and we're just trying to do what we can afford to do," Mr Williams said.

"It's also people letting us down. They'll say they come and they don't. We've paid a deposit, put £600 down for some furniture with Laura Ashley, and unfortunately they went bankrupt and closed down.

"I'm still trying to get that £600 back. I'm paying out and paying out but losing it."

He added: "It's a very slow process, but for us personally we are getting there very slowly."

Mr Williams again praised the work of flood warden Colin Taylor, who also lives in Greyfriars Avenue and who who helped evacuated neighbours when water started to flood the street on February 16 and is now keeping people informed of any updates.

Flood defences

Authorities are now working on plans for new flood defences for the street, which could prevent a similar disaster happening again. An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Working closely with Herefordshire Council, the Environment Agency have commissioned a consultant to investigate options to reduce flood risk in the Greyfriars area of Hereford."

"This will build on previous work and take into consideration the flooding which occurred over the winter 2019/20 and the Government's recently updated approach to funding of flood risk management works.

"The consultants will consider a range of options including raised defences. This is the first stage of a scheme that will inform options to be developed further, and the outcome of this assessment is expected later in the year."

They added: "A scheme will reduce flood risk to properties in the Greyfriars area.

"Environmental risks and opportunities are considered at the earliest stage of developing projects.

"This helps in identifying and reviewing different options for managing flood risk as well as in integrating opportunities for improving the environment and delivering on sustainability targets.

"All these considerations will then feed into preparing the business case for a scheme."

Flood appeal

Households in Greyfriars Avenue were just some of those to benefit from a charitable fund set up by the Hereford Times and Herefordshire Community Foundation (HCF).

Community foundation chief executive officer Philippa Spens said the flood fund raised more than £80,000 after donations from local businesses, charitable trusts and the public.

"HCF awarded 113 flood fund grants of £200 each on allpay cards to households in the first phase," she said.

"More recently we are inviting community groups, clubs and charities with flooded premises to apply for grants to cover losses not recoverable by insurance and for flood defences.

"So far we have awarded over £9,000 to three such groups. Applications can be made through our website"

Among the groups to donate was the Herefordshire Freemasons who gave £10,000.

Community support

In Eardisland near Leominster, Manor House holiday let was able to get all repair work done within six weeks, but then suffered another enforced closure as the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on March 23.

In February, more than 300 tonnes of water was pumped from the 17th-century grade II- listed house on the banks of the river Arrow.

"We had to have a new kitchen fitted, new flooring fitted and spent about £25,000 getting it back up and running," Nicky Edwards, 54, of Shobdon, said.

"It's thanks to the neighbours for getting in and getting everything out so quickly, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to get it up and running so quick.

"We were literally a week away from things starting to go back to normal, Covid struck and we were locked down until two weeks ago."

She believes had they not acted so fast to remove furniture and pump water free from the house, the damage would have been more severe.