Work on a new flood prevention scheme for the recently-hit Conwy Valley could start in around 18 months.
Floods 'would have been seen as unusual' a year ago
Assembly Environment Minister Carwyn Jones gave the news to residents of Trefriw in north Wales during a visit to the area on Friday.
The village was hit by severe flooding last weekend for the second time in under a year.
Mr Jones said a flood of this size would have been seen as "very unusual" before last year.
He told BBC Wales: "It probably still is but that is no comfort if you have been flooded twice in one year.
"Working with the local authority and the Environment Agency, we've got to find a solution.
The Aylward's home has been flooded twice in 11 months
"It can't be done overnight but it but it needs to be done reasonably soon."
In the meantime the existing flood barrier will be repaired and strengthened.
Trefriw residents Liz and Eddie Aylward are facing a second clean-up of their home in less than 12 months.
Their home insurance has spiralled in cost, and they face a £20,000 excess on their policy.
"I would ask anyone if they would put £20,000 in a washing machine two days running," she said.
"Whether the measures can go in place soon enough to defend us from the next heavy rains - I think it's unlikely."
Mr Jones joined the director of the Environment Agency in Wales Dr Helen Phillips in a visit to flood hit communities at Trefriw and Llanrwst.
They said experts had drawn up four option to try to stop future flooding in the area.
A preferred scheme would be selected shortly although work on it would be unlikely start until the 2006/7.
Dr Phillips said: "We fully support the minister's call that all possible remedial actions are taken without delay.
"We have already been liasing closely with partner organisations, including Conwy County Borough Council, to explore a range of possible solutions."
The railway between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog is closed indefinitely because of flood damage.
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the line would be closed "until further notice" and replacement buses were being put on.