A year on, anyone wishing to discover how last July's devastating floods changed lives should meet Bill Bowell and his wife, Edna.

Like hundreds of others in Oxfordshire, the pensioners had to flee their home as filthy water began pouring into their kitchen in those terrible few days.

It would be ten months before the house they acquired 47 years ago on Osney Island for £1,950, where they had brought up their five children, would again be their home.

Yet for 75-year-old Bill, their old home has effectively gone, along with so many of their treasured possessions.

They have been back in Bridge Street for a few weeks. But Bill reckons: "It's like moving into a new house. We've still not settled in properly yet."

After living with his daughter's family in Abingdon after the floods, waiting for the property to be refurbished, he had wondered whether he would get to mark the first anniversary of the floods in his own house.

"The anniversary has meant all the memories are running again in my head. I've lived in West Oxford all my life and it was something I did not expect to see. All hell was let loose."

While newcomers to the island began to panic, his initial reaction was to reflect that he had seen flooding before on the island.

"But I just did not anticipate how it would affect us," he said. "I never expected to see water rising inside our house. The water ended up coming through the back door of the house, running through the front door. I remember my daughter turning to me and saying, 'dad, you cannot stay here'."

He was only able to get his hands on three sandbags, having been told that sandbags had been earlier sent to flood areas in Gloucestershire.

The Bowells were just one of 200 Oxfordshire families who, at the beginning of this summer, were still shut out of their homes.

They were happy with the response of their insurance companies - but others have not been so lucky.

And this week it is being claimed that a new deal between the Government and insurance companies will not help many flood victims in Oxfordshire.

Floods Minister Phil Woolas said last Friday that an agreement reached with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) would ensure that householders are able to obtain protection against flooding.

But Dr Peter Rawcliffe, of the Oxford Flood Alliance, said the agreement was "not good enough" and would not protect hundreds of householders across the county. He told The Oxford Times that insurers would still be able to "cherry pick" the properties they will provide cover for.

Under the agreement, insurers will guarantee to provide protection to any property where the flood risk is no worse than once in 75 years. They will also offer flood cover to existing domestic and small business customers at more frequent risk - provided there are plans to reduce risk to an acceptable level within five years.

But Dr Rawcliffe, of South Hinksey, said: "Hundreds of homes in West Oxford have flooded once, twice, or three times in the last eight years and, even if the homes have only flooded once recently, they would have been affected by the flood in 1947.

"As a result, they would not be protected by this new guidance and that would allow insurance companies to continue to cherry pick the homes they provide cover for. This will not be a huge help for many people and the Government needs to do more."

When announcing the agreement with insurance companies last week, Mr Woolas declined to estimate how many homes fell outside the one-in-75 year risk bracket, saying only: "That is not for Government to declare."

Justin Jacobs, assistant director of the Association of British Insurers, said: "If the Government can ensure that as many people as possible are protected, we will be able to make sure that we can offer affordable insurance to all of our customers who want it.

"The pressure remains on the Government because they must deliver those defences to people in order to make sure we can offer that affordable insurance."

Richard Thurston, of Osney Island Residents' Association, has been prominent in pressing for investment in flood defences in West Oxford.

He was upbeat as the flooding anniversary approached.

"A significant number of measures have already been taken to protect our part of town. Many of the things we asked for have been ticked off.

"Recently we got the demountable flood barrier system on the island. Drains have been flushed out and a large pump installed at the end of West Street."

Craig Woolhouse, area manager with the Environment Agency, said that over the last year £2m has been spent on river maintenance, de-silting work, debris clearance activities and channel maintenance.

In the village of Clanfield, the Clanfield Tavern is hosting a flooding anniversary beer festival and pig roast tomorrow.

But the anniversary of the floods will largely be marked in a sombre and sober manner. Morag and Peter Crowther, whose Witney piano business and home was flooded last summer said: "We're certainly in no mood for a party."