It’s now almost six years since Storm Frank swept through Ballater, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
The Deeside community was one of the worst-hit in the UK, as hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed at a cost mounting into the millions.
Aberdeenshire councillors heard this week how the community remains “traumatised” by the catastrophe.
And locals are growing increasingly worried about it happening again.
Why are locals worried about more Ballater flooding?
In recent times, about 100m of a protective bund along the River Dee has been washed away.
Ballater and Crathie Community Council secretary Richard Frimston explained that a breach in that bund led to the “life-threatening” flooding at the end of 2015.
He said: “Ballater was so deeply damaged and traumatised by Storm Frank.
“Our research has shown that, clearly, it was the breach in the village bund that was the cause of the very fast flowing flooding through the lower village that was the major threat to life.”
‘We feel very exposed’
Richard said the erosion of the bund, along with “dramatic” changes to the course of the River Dee, are now causing increasing concern.
He said: “The community feels very exposed by that and feels at real risk from low level flooding.”
Richard added that £20,000 repairs to the defences carried out after Storm Frank succeeded in keeping rising waters at bay when mounds of snow melted this February.
He said that many in the village “had a sleepless night” earlier this year as they worried for the safety of their homes.
Locals have come to think of it as a “near-miss”.
“It was very traumatic again, and we believe the Aberdeenshire Council repair may well have saved the village from significant damage,” Richard said.
Council agrees to take action on Ballater flooding
Members of the Marr Area Committee were moved by the speech and backed further improvement works.
The council’s flood risk team had recommended taking a staged approach to examine the extent of the threat.
If the project finds the risk has increased, a “new and full” study will be carried out to find the best options to prevent future flooding.
That could include bund works and removing dead trees.
‘The impact has not gone away’
Councillor Peter Argyle said this was a “very serious issue” for Ballater.
He said: “Everyone is aware of what happened with Storm Frank, the impact of that on the community has not gone away and there’s a real sense of vulnerability.”
He noted that the proposed works would deal with smaller, more frequent incidents that “cause great deal of concern” in the community.
The flood study work will be carried out immediately, and may take up to eight months.
Aberdeenshire Council is currently waiting to find out if it will receive Scottish Government funding to carry out previously approved works at Ballater.
In the aftermath of the devastation, we released the below video on how Storm Frank hit the region: