Work has commenced to ensure north-east towns are protected from future flooding damage.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were left in ruins following the Storm Frank floods of January 2016.
Inverurie, Port Elphinstone and Ellon were among the worst-hit areas when the rivers Don and Ythan burst their banks.
Insch was safe, but has been identified as vulnerable to future flooding.
And now, Aberdeenshire Council has appointed a consultant to carry out studies in the communities to help prepare them for severe weather.
The authority estimates that proper flood defence measures in these areas could save the taxpayer more than £18million in potential damages should they fall victim to another deluge.
The work will be done by Dougall Baillie Associates, working in partnership with JBA Consulting.
Peter Argyle, chairman of the council’s infrastructure services committee, said: “Both Ellon and Inverurie were the victims of devastating flooding in early 2016.
“In Ellon, approximately 65 residential properties and three businesses were flooded, while in Inverurie and Port Elphinstone around 95 houses and approximately 14 businesses were flooded.
“Fortunately, Insch did not suffer on this occasion, but was still vulnerable.
“The progression of these studies is a significant step forward in the delivery of actions within the local flood risk management plan (LFRP) and I’m sure they will be welcomed by these communities.
“It is important they are carried out thoroughly and although the timescales for potential physical measures to be put in place may seem lengthy, Aberdeenshire Council has to work in accordance with SEPA’s flood risk management strategies and this is a complex process.”
If considered feasible, the outputs from the studies, such as a preferred flood protection scheme, will become a part of the next LFRP.
The work starts this month and will be completed by the spring of 2019.