GRANTS of up to £5,000 will be made available to adapt around 150 homes and businesses in Bewdley, Stourport and Wolverley to protect them from future flooding.

Dozens of Wyre Forest properties were ravaged by flooding in February after Storm Dennis forced the River Severn to rise to near record levels in the district.

Now, affected residents and business owners are being offered help to claim up to £5,000 to help protect their properties in future and make them habitable more quickly if they are flooded again.

Wyre Forest District Council has already given out £202,000 in council tax and business rate relief and further £3,000 in grants to home and business owners to deal with the aftermath of the floods, and will soon be sending out application packs with support on applying for financial support to protect homes in the future.

Council leader, Councillor Graham Ballinger, said: “In many ways the devastating floods that hit our district seem a long time ago, but I’m sure those residents and businesses that were internally flooded by the storms are still very much living with the damage that was caused.

“At the time of the floods our staff worked extremely hard to help those worst affected receive grants, hardship payments and tax and business rates relief to deal with the immediate impact of the floods.

Ludlow Advertiser: Gil's tearoom in Wolverley suffered extensive damage as a result of the floodsGil's tearoom in Wolverley suffered extensive damage as a result of the floods

“We are now turning our attention to the longer term and will be working with local residents and businesses to access these additional funds so they can either protect properties from being flooded in future or recover more quickly if that is not possible.”

The National Flood Forum (NFF) will be hosting virtual support sessions for flood-hit residents in Wyre Forest on Tuesday, May 26 and Tuesday, June 2.

Anyone wishing to attend one of the sessions virtually will need to book a slot by calling 01299 403101.

Once interest has been registered, the NFF will then provide the joining details of the online sessions.

Ludlow Advertiser: The River Severn in Bewdley reached near record-breaking levelsThe River Severn in Bewdley reached near record-breaking levels

Residents and business owners will be able to speak to representatives from the NFF, many of whom have flooded in the past themselves, about their experiences and get advice about issues such as insurance and property re-instatement.

Also, representatives from the county council, the district councils, the Environment Agency and Severn Trent will be available at the sessions to help with a wide range of other flooding issues.

Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Tony Miller said: “We’re painfully aware that recovery from flooding is a long and often traumatic and stressful process and we planned to ask the NFF to tour the county with their community support trailer during April.

"However, the Covid-19 lockdown prevented this from happening and, at the same time, added to the existing difficulties being faced by those who were flooded.

"Therefore, I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with the NFF and our other partners to develop and roll out these support sessions and I urge anyone who flooded during the autumn and winter to join them, share their experiences and get the advice and support they need.”

Heather Shepherd, community support manager and flood recovery specialist for the NFF, said: “Having been flooded myself I understand how traumatic it is. I know that the process of recovery is fraught with a number of stresses and pressures, which is why I would urge anyone who has any flood-related issues or questions to come and talk to us.

Ludlow Advertiser: The moment barriers were over-topped in BewdleyThe moment barriers were over-topped in Bewdley

"We are here to help, offer advice, signpost you to the best sources of professional support and actively listen to your concerns.”

The NFF is a national charity which is based in Bewdley.

Advice on flooding and resilience issues can also be sought at any time by contacting the NFF helpline on 01299 403055 or visiting floodforum.org.uk.