Scotland

Scotland flooding: Record high for river levels

  • 8 January 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Media captionDozens of homes were evacuated after the River Don burst its banks

Water levels on the River Don in north east Scotland reached their highest levels in 45 years during a night of severe floods caused by heavy rain.

Almost 70 properties were evacuated, including the 86 residents of three care homes in Aberdeen.

The River Ythan also burst its banks, with flow levels breaking previous records at Ellon.

All Aberdeenshire residents affected by flooding have now returned home or found alternative accommodation.

And rest centres in the area have been stood down.

Environment agency Sepa has now lifted most flood warnings but warned vigilance for the next 48 hours.

The first minister chaired a further meeting of the Scottish government's resilience committee and Nicola Sturgeon said the floods had had a "devastating impact" on many communities across eastern Scotland.

Emergency response

On Thursday night, Aberdeenshire Council said it was dealing with an escalating emergency response as the rivers Dee and Ythan burst their banks.

Some 38 properties in Port Elphinstone, near Inverurie, and 18 homes in Ellon were evacuated.

At first light, as conditions eased, dozens of people were being cared for at rest centres.

By Friday afternoon, Aberdeen City Council said it had switched its anti-flooding efforts to Culter, where the burn burst its banks and 12 residents from the Millside were evacuated from their homes.

A spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that river levels in the city will not rise any further and will start to decrease gradually over the course of the day... However, residents in the Granholm and Culter areas are advised to remain extra vigilant over the next 48 hours."

  • Port Elphinstone, near Inverurie: 38 homes evacuated overnight
  • Ellon: 18 homes evacuated as River Ythan overflowed
  • Culter: 12 homes evacuated as Culter Burn burst its banks
  • Donside: Residents evacuated from care home now returning
  • Flooded sub station caused powercuts in Port Elphinstone, Kintore and Ellon
  • Train services to and from central belt affected, but lines open by mid-morning
  • Services between Aberdeen and Inverness also severely affected
  • Aberdeen International Airport runway reopened after repairs
  • Sepa: River Don at Parkhill peaked at 5.537m. Previous high was 4.168m in 2002, but levels now dropping
  • Twenty-four roads closed in Aberdeenshire and about 13 in Tayside
  • More than 30 Aberdeenshire schools shut or partially closed on Friday due to weather
  • NHS Grampian residents advised those with private water supply to drink bottled water
  • The Met Office has further yellow warnings for rain and snow covering many parts of Scotland
  • Routes blocked as snows strike in southern Scotland
Image caption The Ellon to Methlick bus is half-submerged after being caught out by floodwater
Image caption The River Ythan in Ellon caused flooding
Image copyright Luke Price
Image caption Vehicles were left submerged in Dyce in Aberdeen

Police Scotland declared a "major incident" overnight.

Aberdeenshire Council said it faced an "escalating emergency response" and had a "very challenging night".

BBC correspondent Kevin Keane said residents in their 80s were among those evacuated in Port Elphinstone.

He said some had been led to ambulances to keep warm while waiting for rescue boats, as "dozens" of homes flooded.

Media captionTorrents of water rage through streets in Inverurie

An emergency rest centre became inaccessible because of flood water, and rescue efforts were also hampered by freezing temperatures and snow. The area was also affected by a power cut.

At Methlick, a bus was half-submerged by floodwater after becoming stranded. Stagecoach said there were no passengers on board at the time and the driver was able to get off safely.

'Tremendous spirit'

David Barrack runs a hotel in Inverurie which escaped the flooding and has offered free rooms to people affected.

He said: "We are full now and we've got people in the reception area and people in the lounge area.

"The bar is busy so it's quite a social event actually. There's tremendous spirit."

One woman who was forced to leave her home in Inverurie said she saw the water rising onto the pavement outside and realised she had to grab as much as she could and "get out".

She told the BBC: "My brother looked through the letterbox this morning and said the house had water in it. So I'm just now emptying what I can.

"I've got two kids - they were panicking as well. We spent the evening last night looking for sandbags. There was a two hour wait for getting them in Inverurie last night. We had no chance."

Image caption The runway at Aberdeen International Airport re-opened on Friday morning after damage was caused by the heavy rain
Image caption Families had to leave their homes in Port Elphinstone

Shelley Douglas, in Kintore, told BBC Scotland the community spirit was strong.

She said: "It just hasn't let up. It finally stopped raining a couple of hours ago but the community has pulled together.

"They have been absolutely amazing - getting sandbags and even using pillow cases as sandbags. Not just in Kintore, but from Kemnay and Inverurie and surrounding areas as well."

Travel warning

Ch Supt Campbell Thomson, divisional commander for the North East Division of Police Scotland, said: "A major incident was declared due to the severity of the warnings in place and the potential for serious impact on communities.

"A number of roads throughout the region remain closed and I want to remind the public of the need to travel with extreme caution. With freezing temperatures expected, conditions will be hazardous and you should only travel if essential."

He added: "I want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of emergency services and partners and indeed the community in the way they have responded to the prolonged adverse weather which is some of the worst conditions we have seen for many years."

The flooding followed December being the wettest month for the UK in more than a century.

Richard Brown, head of hydrology for Sepa, said water levels around the River Don were "pretty exceptional".

He told BBC Scotland: "We have had a gauging station up at Alford for the last 42 years and it has exceeded anything we have ever recorded."


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