Cumbria flood-proofing grant gets less than 10% take-up
Fewer than 10% of flooded Cumbria businesses and households have bid for government "flood-proofing" grants.
A flood relief charity boss believed most people are still struggling with immediate finances and not ready to consider future protection.
Carlisle Labour councillor Lee Sherriff said the government should be looking at preventing flooding before defending homes against it.
A government spokesman said there was no time limit for applications.
Only 493 out of about 6,000 people or businesses affected by Storm Desmond have submitted claims to the Property Level Resilience Scheme (PLRS).
Miss Sherriff said people had an "ingrained fear it's going to happen again" and instead wanted "concrete promises from the government" that it would invest in flood defences.
"It's better prevention rather than trying to hold water back once it's down," she said.
A flood relief appeal run by Cumbria Community Foundation has raised £5.7m, mostly from donations, but it believes £9.4m will be needed over the next 12-18 months.
Chief executive Andy Beeforth said: "Many families have not returned to their homes, hundreds of homes are not yet dry or ready to be occupied, others are only just uncovering problems and issues and costs they had not expected."
The resilience grant was an "important component" but he was disappointed the government had not handed over the second half of £2m it promised for the immediate relief effort, he said.
"We're into March and we're waiting on the outcome of a match funding scheme that was announced in December."
Numbers of PLRS applications by council area
Allerdale Borough Council - 130
Copeland Borough Council - none
Carlisle City Council - 136
Eden District Council - 113
South Lakeland District Council - 114
Government communities secretary Greg Clark has urged households and businesses to apply for the grants of up to £5,000 "so they don't miss out".
The money can been spent on work such as moving electrical sockets, installing flood doors, waterproofing windows and replacing fixtures with water-resistant alternatives.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We have not imposed a deadline for people to apply for a share of the Property Level Resilience Grant.
"It is for councils to set this to meet local needs, but we do recognise that some may take longer than others to apply."