How shock flooding pulled north-east communities together in wake of Storm Frank

Ballater after Storm Frank hit

The whole of Aberdeenshire was left in a state of shock when images of the devastation caused to Ballater in the wake of Storm Frank were beamed across the UK.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed and caravans sailed down the River Dee as it burst its banks on December 30, 2015.

And just a week later residents in Ellon and Inverurie were facing their own nightmare as the weather continued to wreak havoc across the region.

At the time residents banded together and re-kindled their community spirt to help one another in their time of need.

And now almost exactly one year on the flood hit communities in Ellon have maintained that strong bond.

Residents at The Meadows cul-de-sac, on the outskirts of the town, are hoping Aberdeenshire Council will soon take action and build a bund to prevent any future flooding on their street.

Forming the Meadows Flood Action Group, all bar one of families on the street are now back in their homes.

But they have been forced to take further protection measures to help lessen the impact of another flood.

The Ythan River flows next to the quiet street and broke its banks above the entrance to the development.

This caused the water to run down the road back into the river on January 7, 2016.

Resident Allan Steele was on holiday last year in Florida at the time of the flood and was woken by a phone call from his daughter.

He said: “I got a message from my daughter showing me a video of the water flowing down the street – I couldn’t believe my eyes. I took a stiff drink and went back to sleep again – there was nothing I could do about it being 2,000 miles away.”

The force of the water upended benches and caused £400,000 damage to Mr Steele’s home, which he and his family have lived in since it was built 25 years ago.

They are yet to move back into it.

The group has submitted a proposal to the local authority for a stone bund to be built on council owned land adjacent to Mr Steele’s property.

This was the point at which the Ythan broke through.

Funding the initial survey himself, Mr Steele has estimated the work would cost £70,000 to complete.

He said: “For not a lot of money, we could deal with it, but the council has not shown a lot of interest. They are saying it will take two to three years.

“It is common sense to me to stop the water getting in the first place.”

Because the Steele’s were out of the country, they had no way of trying to save any precious items from their home.

Photographs and home videos were all ruined by the flood water, never to be replaced.

Mr Steele said: “I am not prepared to live through this again. We have lost countless items and photographs – all lost.

“But it has brought our small community together, people have come and gone over the years, but this has now re-invigorated the feeling of community.

“So some good has come out of it.”

Chairman of the Meadows Flood Action Group, Andy Lane, returned to his house in August after adding some prevention measures.

He said: “It is frustrating that it has taken this long. We never thought it would be a case of a few letters and that this would be fixed.

“We are still working with the council in a patient and respectful way, but going forward we need to get the council to understand how they can help us and reduce our flood risk.

“We have bought sealed covers for our air brick vents, as that is what caused the water to get in. I have had my entire house sealed; various pipes and doors are double sealed. My garage door has been sealed off and I also have pumps as well.

“If we get the weather like last year again, I think once that weak point has been breached – it won’t take much for it to happen again.”

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