MEMBERS of the Royal family have visited families and businesses in a North-east village hit by yesterday’s floods.
Prince Charles and Camilla, who are reportedly staying in the region for Hogmanay, spoke to people on the streets of Ballater before visiting the Victoria barracks which has been turned into a refuge centre.
Flood stricken residents and business owners had today returned to view scenes of total devastation.
The village was a disaster zone 24 hours after the River Dee burst its banks and sent a powerful torrent of water through the village.
Cars that had been swept away lay abandoned on streets, the remains of static caravans lay smashed against buildings and the thick stink of diesel and oil filled the air as the clean up operation got under way.
People were forced to navigate torn up pavements and roads as many tried to figure out who to start helping first.
Cafe owners spent the morning mopping up mud from their floors, while parents tried to keep their children warm as they cleared their sodden houses of ruined possessions.
Karen Emslie, 33, was at work when her partner Graeme Miller phoned to tell her that the house they share with son Bryce, 10, and seven-year-old Maddie had flooded.
Their property, which they rent from Karen’s sister, was wrecked when a surge of dirty water broke through the doors and swamped the ground floor.
She said: “When I went to work everything was fine but then my mum phoned me to say that there were men going round telling people the banks were about to burst.
“Not long after I got a phone call from my partner who said, ‘Get home now, we’re flooded’.
“There were people going round with sandbags but we didn’t get them in time.
“There was nothing but then two minutes later, it was just tragic.”
Karen’s carpets, freshly laid just a few weeks ago, will now have to be lifted to let the floorboards dry.
And her oil tank in the garden ended up floating in the water – leaving her without heating as the temperature sat just above freezing.
Just a few streets away Lucy Lafferty, who lost her shop in May when the village’s Old Royal station burnt down in May, was facing another business disaster.
Her father, Norman Clements, outdoors and hunting shop Countrywear ended up sitting in several feet of water when the flood was at its worst.
Lucy, who had been working at the shop since she lost her own business, said that her dad had lost “hundreds of thousands of pounds” of stock which she hoped the insurance would cover.
The 40-year-old said: “We can’t do anything at the moment as we are trying to find the insurance documents.
“We’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.
“The guns in the gun room, the cartridges, the bullets are all in there. There are welly boots worth over £300 – they are all wet.”
Down at the riverbank home owner Frances Edwards, 61, watched in horror on Wednesday as the water tore through the nearby caravan park.
Several of the caravans came free of their fixtures and smashed into the side of her house, while others floated off at speed down the Dee.
She said: “Some of them went down the river and others came across from the camp site.
“The caravan in front of the house has a car underneath it. They were just bobbing around.
“We managed to walk out. That’s the saving Grace really, that the water drained away so quickly.”
Ernie McIntosh, 77, was one of those evacuated from his house to the Victoria barracks.
The pensioner went back to visit his wrecked house yesterday morning.
The only word he could use to describe the scene was “shocking”.
Mr McIntosh relived his dramatic exit from his home along with his neighbours.
He said: “In 20 minutes the water was over my wellingtons. The speed of it was unbelievable.
“We walked 250 yards guided by our rescuers and by the time we got that far it was up above my waist.
“At one point I was considerably worried.
“They called in a JCB and the ladies got into the bucket and the men got into the cab and they took us to dry land.”