Business owners in Stonehaven have spoken of the devastation wreaked by floodwater, as stormy weather took its toll.
Shops and cafes that are still showing considerable bruises from the Covid-19 lockdown have been forced to close once again to repair the damage.
This is the third time in almost 11 years the town has been hit by major flooding, with it also being badly affected in 2009 and 2012.
I estimate we’ve lost about £15,000. We still haven’t got flood cover as no one will cover us.”
Lorraine Watson, Carron Fish Bar
Lorraine Watson, owner of the Carron Fish Bar on Allardice Street, said the premises would be closed for at least two weeks due to damage caused by flooding.
She said: “I think the flooding has been bad as no one was informed, no flood defences were up and flood volunteers weren’t contacted.
“There was all these people coming down to the river to have a look, the police closed the area and said it was an emergency zone.
“I estimate we’ve lost about £15,000. We still haven’t got flood cover as no one will cover us.
“It’s just dreadful. It’s just myself and my husband and our manager until we get the basement cleared.
“Everything’s had to be chucked out, we had freezers floating in the water.
“The water was right up to the bridge on the River Carron.
“I’m probably looking at two weeks being closed. We had orders booked in that we had to phone and cancel.”
Suzanne MacLeod, who works at the Farmfoods on the corner of Barclay Street and Cameron Street, said even arriving to work in the morning was a challenge.
She said: “As you were coming down the road, it was almost like a tide – you could feel that strong current coming down. It was really strong, it got to the point where I had to hold onto the side.
“Once I got down in front of the shop, on the road it was about thigh high. Outside the shop, it was about waist high once you step onto the steps.”
She added: “We’re in the process of mopping up.
“Some of our roof tiles came in, but the back was a lot worse.
“We’ve had to get guys out to look at the freezers, and some of the freezers have actually been condemned because the water’s got in and broken them.”
Phil Mills-Bishop, chairperson of the Stonehaven Twinning Group and former chairperson of the local community council, said: “The initial downpour in the early morning was a nightmare, a lot of flash flooding around.
“A lot of the shops are closed because of water damage, but there’s a resilience there, although people are really fed up.
“I’ve been speaking to one or two people – it’s not just Covid, now it’s natural disasters and we’ve got the lockdown in Aberdeen.
“If you’re given hard times, if you get through it, you come out stronger at the other end. I think there is a resilience in Stonehaven, but it’s just a pity that we have to continue to go through these experiences.”
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie visited the town this morning alongside local councillor Wendy Agnew.
They surveyed the damage caused, to both businesses and properties as well as the River Carron’s flood defences.
Mr Bowie said: “I’m here speaking to the local teams involved in responding to a dangerous situation.
“Thankfully the water is receding but it was a grim sight this morning.
“It’s been a number of years since we saw Stonehaven so badly hit by flooding, possibly as far back as Storm Frank.
“This is the last thing residents need. It’s imperative local businesses get the help they need to get back on their feet.”
The Stonehaven Flood Protection Scheme (FPS) is currently in the process of being constructed, as the town has historically suffered from flooding which has affected residents and businesses in the lower reach of the River Carron.
Major flooding events have occurred in the area over the years, however most notably in 1988, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2012, which have seen residents evacuated.
The FPS is aimed to reduce flood risk to 372 residential properties, two public utility sites, a school and an emergency service site, and is being carried out by contractors McLaughlin and Harvey Ltd.
Once completed, it will provide a 0.5% chance of occurrence standard of protection.
It involves removing, replacing and raising the Red Bridge and Green Bridge, repositioning the Green Bridge, removing, refurbishing and replacing the White Bridge in a raised position, replacing the Bridgefield Bridge parapet with reinforced glass, raising and widening the Beach Bridge, constructing flood walls between the Red Bridge and the river mouth and removing the island downstream of the Green Bridge.
It will also install two higher capacity culverts on the Glaslaw Burn, a new culvert under the gardens of Cameron Street as well as a new pedestrian walkway from Bridgefield Bridge to the Beach Bridge.
Work was temporarily stopped earlier this year due to coronavirus. It was originally due to be finished by spring, however due to Covid-19 and other issues, no new date has been set.
A statement from contractors McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd, said: “In response to the significant flood events on the River Carron this morning, the project team are working closely with the emergency services and assisting where possible.
“A site-wide clear up will commence once the situation improves and to ensure security. All affected residents have been contacted and assistance offered by the Project Community Liaison Officer.”
Meanwhile, up the coast in Newtonhill, local councillor Ian Mollison spent the day surveying the damage.
He said: “I’ve never seen rain like it. It was, to use a Scottish word, stoating down.
“I heard from some villagers that there had been landslides on the cliffs above Newtonhill beach, so I went down to have a look and two gardens have lost a bit of ground, it’s all slipped down towards the beach.
“Two landslides there, across the main path which goes from the village down to the beach, quite remarkable.
“Plus, the Elsick Burn which feeds into Newtonhill Bay – I’ve never seen it so high, and I’ve been here forty-odd years.
“It was hard enough for school kids going back to school for the first time today since March, all geared up for it, and then it’s a washout – literally.”
Across Aberdeenshire, a number of schools were closed due to flooding either in the school or around the area.
These included Portlethen Academy, Dunnottar School, Mill O’Forest School, Mearns Academy, Rothienorman School, Mackie Academy, Glenbervie School, Carronhill School, Hillside School, Banchory-Devenick School, Peterhead Central School, Johnshaven School, Lairhillock School and Laurencekirk School.
Portlethen School was also shut due to internal water supply failure.
Bervie School delayed its opening time to 9.30am to allow staff to travel to school, with no school transport operating, while Buchanhaven Primary School delayed all its opening times by an hour and Fishermoss School postponed its opening until 10am.
Transport was also delayed at Alford Academy and The Gordon Schools due to faults, meanwhile Catterline School’s transport was not running although the school was open, pupils were asked only to travel in if it was safe to do so.