Flood-hit rugby clubs are on the road to recovery in the wake of Storm Dennis thanks to a stellar community effort.
WRU National Championship side Bedwas were left facing the brunt of repair costs after they discovered they were not covered for flood damage.
Director William Rees spoke of the “exceptional” volunteers that helped restore working order.
He said: “It’s been exceptional. We’ve always had a solid core of volunteers involved with the club.
“The community came out in force, people from the village came to support us and helped with physical labour and cleaning stock.
“We had Peter’s Pies and Miss B’s café handing out food, while chemical corporations brought mops and carpet cleaners, and gave us blowers to help dry the place.
“Fortunately, we’ve got the main room semi-operational. Half the interior of the clubhouse is out of operation, so we can’t offer things like weddings and wakes.”
Mr Rees added: “The cellar was absolutely submerged – you’d have needed scuba gear to go in there.”
Cross Keys, who also play in the WRU National Championship, have been hard at work repairing its clubhouse, with their big room and bar now back in operation thanks to help from the public.
Ex-Keys chairman Colin Vernall, who has been one of those spearheading the clean-up, said: “The community have been fabulous – without them we wouldn’t be open.
“On the morning of the flooding I couldn’t believe my eyes. We couldn’t get near the club. We waded in at around 4pm to pump out the water.
“We had 50 people here, some were making bacon rolls and cakes.
“We even people from outside of the community come. We had Dean Ryan and some lads from the Dragons help with the big clean up.
“We had to cancel a few functions which we’ve now lost, but it’s also the time spent. We won’t get those things back.”
Meanwhile, neighbouring Risca RFC were also struck by flooding and started repairs in similar fashion.
Club secretary Colin Wilkes said: “The community effort has been second to none – it puts a lump in your throat thinking about it.
“It’s the whole Risca community – without them we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are.
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“The whole club was involved, which was incredible. We had one or two days closed, but it’s sort of business as usual given circumstances.
“A biblical flood are the only words I can use. You have got to get on with it really.
“It could be worse, but the adrenaline keeps you going because it’s not just my club – it’s everyone’s club.”
Elsewhere, Blackwood RFC started a fundraising page that raised more than £4,500.
Blackwood club secretary Russell Allan praised the hoard of volunteers that helped after the club launched the appeal.
He said: “In the space of a few hours we had about 70 volunteers.
“We actually had events on the Friday and Saturday so we did everything possible to open – which we did. It’s testimony to those volunteers.
“I’m taken aback by the donations.”
He added: “We have been hit hard. The pitch, training cage and car park were flooded, while the carpets had brown sludge everywhere.
“The force of the water lifted a decking area. The tarmac was shredded and the flooding had bent a post of galvanised security fencing.”
Mr Allan explained that the club had to cancel a fundraising event to raise money for the new breast care unit at Ysybyty Ystad Fawr.
He said: “We’ve postponed that to May 9, so hopefully we can give them a nice cheque.”
On February 28, Islwyn MP Chris Evans visited affected clubs in his constituency. He said: “The damage to the rugby clubs was devastating.
“I felt it was extremely important to visit those clubs and was heartened by the response of the community. It was clear to see these clubs are the beating heart of the area.
“It’s not just the community for rugby, these places hold all sorts of events to help schools or mother-toddler groups. Without them, the area suffers.”
Mr Evans has said he is calling for more support for those affected by the floods from the UK Government, and added: “This storm has shown just how vulnerable we are.”