Aberdeenshire residents fear they have been left “stranded” after the council voted to halve next year’s flooding budget.
The local authority’s ruling group presented their plans to save millions over the next financial year at the annual budget meeting on Wednesday.
The decision to cut £282,000 of the flood management budget has since come under fire.
The figure represents 49% of the overall budget of £582,000.
As part of these cuts, minor coast protection works and any other minor works funded by revenue have been cancelled in order to save a total of £250,000, while spending on experts to advise on flood risks of potential developments has been slashed by £25,000.
Flood investigation works, which help evaluate the impact of previous flooding and the risk of new ones, have also been reduced by 50%.
In response to the now approved budget, East Garioch councillor Glen Reid said the council should “prioritise people”.
Mr Reid said: “We all know that difficult decisions have to be made, but every single flood management budget saving has been taken.
“In communities across Aberdeenshire there are thousands of families who are anxious every time we have bad weather.
“In Kintore, we’ve been regularly flooded over the past few years – two times just in the last three months – and these minor works actually have huge impact on the local community, because without them they are left stranded and indefensible.”
Youth worker Rachel Lewis was one of the victims of the most recent flooding in Kintore in February.
The 29-year-old has had her garden badly affected twice since she moved into the property almost three years ago.
She said: “It’s unimaginable that this is happening with everything that people have gone through.
“This is our livelihoods, our houses and the places where we are supposed to feel safe, it feels like we are being forgotten again.
“I struggle with anxiety anyway, so sitting at home looking at the water getting higher and higher knowing I can’t do anything about if it gets to my house is terrifying and really upsetting.
“They look on paper and decide what’s best to save money on, but they are not seeing the implications that this has on the community.”
Ellon Community Resilience Group chairwoman, Tessa Carr, added that funding has been an issue since the devastating Storm Frank in 2016.
The town was also badly hit in October last year.
Ms Carr said: “If we go back to the flooding in 2016, the funding back then was awful and there are still a lot of issues to be addressed, but we often get the response that there isn’t enough money to get things in place.
“There is a lot of focus on community effort right now and indeed, it is people’s responsibility to provide flooding protection for their own properties, but there is always a risk of something really bad happening again.
“It is something you just accept, because you’ve made the choice to live by the river, but we are all scared and always on edge for every flood alert that comes up, because nothing is in place.”
However, infrastructure services committee chairman Peter Argyle insisted that the budget cuts won’t have a “massive” impact.
He said: “The really important point is that the changes that have been made are minor and not usually significant.
“This will not stop our work and there is still a sizable amount of money for major flooding interventions from the £18 million allocated to coast, flooding and other such business in the capital budget.
“We are in the bizarre position where we have to save a considerable chunk of the revenue budget and make savings that none of us want to, and unfortunately the flooding budget had to take its share of that burden.
“It’s just the nature of it and it’s becoming harder every year to find savings that don’t have impact, so we have to choose the ones that have the least impact.
“So the message to the people is that the savings on the flood management are absolutely regrettable and none of us wanted to do it, and it won’t have a massive impact on the services we provide.”
The capital programme includes a £2.5m fund to tackle potholes, £1.3m to be invested in winter roads maintanance and an extra £500,000 has been made available to cut grass.
It also includes £40m set aside for bridges and roads.
The work on the Stonehaven Flood Defence Scheme continues with additional funding of more than £4,600.
An Aberdeenshire council spokesman said: “Aberdeenshire Council has progressed five flood protection studies, as set out in the North East Local Flood Risk Management Plan 2016 – 2022.
“These will be considered during the National Prioritisation process by the Scottish Government, SEPA and COSLA for potential development in future cycles of the Flood Risk Management Act.
“Until this process is completed, there are no specific allocations for flood protection works within this budget.”