The scenes of devastation that engulfed a North-east caravan park during Storm Frank are burned into the memories of all those who endured them.
Static caravans at Ballater Caravan and Camping Park were seen floating down the raging river as flood waters tore through the park and the village.
But since then the site has managed to reopen to touring caravans and is hopeful of seeing static caravans return next year – but with specialist flotation devices attached.
Alistair Cassie, one of the directors of the facility, said it was slowly getting back on its feet and, on the touring caravan side, had enjoyed a good year.
“The tourist site is up and running. It was a late opening season but it has been a very successful season and people are delighted with the site,” he said.
“People are saying it is a better standard than it was before – that’s the positive side.
“As far as the old part, we’re hoping to get a limited number of static stances – possibly 10 – for next season.”
However, Alistair said for owners to get their holiday homes insured they were going to have to take extra steps.
“In order for people to get insurance, the caravans will have to be mounted on a floatation system,” he said.
“It’s basically a concrete base on the ground and the floatations are polystyrene blocks fixed to the caravan.
“If it does flood again – and that’s if, it might never – they rise up with the water and are anchored with chains.
“They rise with the water and no real damage is done and people can get insurance.
“It’s quite expensive to do, so we’re limited as to how many we can do, and it’ll depend on demand.
“We’re having a meeting with every past caravan user at the beginning of the year to gauge the interest.”
At the time of the flooding there were around 90 caravans on the site, but Alistair said with the new regulations for the site that number would likely drop.
“The flood was one of those freak things that happened,” he said.
“Time is a great healer and people will forget, but then on the other hand people don’t want to take too many risks. But every time you drive up the road you take a risk and if it’s a one-in-200-year flood it’s quite a reasonable risk to take.
“We’re hopeful it’ll get back to what it was. If we change it dramatically all the services have to be changed – the drains and the electrics.
“If there’s not an uptake or demand for the statics we might have seasonal pitches again, but we’re limited as the toilet block can only handle so many people.
“We could take an extra 15 or 20 caravans and cope but anything else would put stress on the toilets and we’d have to build a new block which is mega money again.”
Alistair, who runs the nearby General Merchant store and is a Royal Warrant holder, estimated the damage at the caravan park at around £500,000.
He added the flooding had impacted on tourism since, but that the general economy was possibly playing more or a part.
“It’s been a very, very poor year. We keep blaming the flood but Deeside is going through a difficult time,” he said.
“Deeside is in deep recession and the oil cut backs has probably affected things – there’s so many things in the equation.
“People are very cautious at the moment.”