'I HAVE a house but not a home' - the Radcliffe community is still feeling the effects of the devastating Boxing Day floods two years on.

More than 800 homes and businesses across Bury were flooded when the River Irwell broke its bank in 2015.

Some 700 of those were in the Radcliffe, Warth, and Redvales areas.

It was the worst flooding for 79 years, leaving families displaced, homes in ruins and cars destroyed.

The resilient community has pulled together in the two years following the devastation, but the effects, particularly on mental health and wellbeing, are still being felt.

A survey taken in April this year found some 55 per cent have experienced depression as a result of the flood, and 89 per cent had been angry.

The Environment Agency works closely with Radcliffe Residents Flood Action Group and the Redvales Flood Relief team, providing updates on rainfall to keep people informed.

Even still, some are fearful of the events being repeated.

Colette Jones, of Parkside Close, Radcliffe, has received awards for supporting her community through the floods.

The chairman of the Friends of Close Park group said: "People are still emotionally scarred by the events.

"I have a house but not a home. You do not buy a house to make it resilient. You buy a house to live in.

"Every time it rains it is a constant worry.

"There is a real fear-factor there and it is not going away.

"The Environment Agency called me on December 22 to say there would be heavy rain this year but that it would not flood. But people still panic."

Just three weeks ago, residents were advised to move their belongings upstairs because the water levels had risen to within just one inch of coming over the bridge near Asda Radcliffe.

The Boxing Day waters damaged the bridge, which connects Lomax Street and Outwood Road, and caused a dramatic gas explosion.

Across the region, the unprecedented rainfall brought by Storm Eva in December 2015 caused £11.5 million worth of damage to infrastructure.

According to a report published after the floods, the River Irwell is only expected to reach the levels it did in some areas on Boxing Day once every 100 to 200 years.

The waters of 2015 were more than one-metre high, and wreaked havoc in St Mary's Parish Church.

Reverend Carol Hayden, who left St Mary's Parish at the end of November, described the flood as the best and worst thing that had happened during her posting.

"It was a very difficult time. The church was damaged and we could not meet there. It took a long time to carry out repairs.

"But the highlight was the strength of the community, not just during the disaster but in the weeks and months that followed."

The congregation went into the streets, knocking on people's doors, and handed out food and drink in the immediate aftermath of the flood.

Mum-of-two Mrs Hayden, aged 53, added: "As a result of that bridge-building, people see the church as far more than just a place of worship."

There are currently plans for a £12m new flood defence scheme that would protect Radcliffe and Redvales.

The Bury Flood Strategy closed for consultation on December 11.

One resident, commenting on the proposals, said: "Overall it is shocking and unacceptable to see how little has been achieved to date. There does not appear to be any radical new thinking in light of the Boxing Day floods with lessons learnt.

"This report appears to have been treated as a tick box exercise which is unacceptable for the residents of Bury and especially the 600 households who were flooded."

Radcliffe and Redvales Flood Action Group are now working closely with other flood groups along the River Irwell to ensure their voices are heard collectively.

More than 100 people from flood groups across the North West attended a conference in August, organised by residents in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University.

A total of 15 flood groups also participated in phone conference with the National Flood Forum in December.

Ms Jones said: "This is the future now. We need to look at the bigger picture.

"Global warming is going to carry on so focusing solely on Radcliffe is not going to work.

"We were all saying the same things, including that agencies are reactive and not proactive.

"Farmers need to do more and agencies should listen to residents.

"We feel there should be more accountability, policing and quality measures.

"We are not alone in this."