21 November 2022

Recovery process begins to support communities impacted by flooding

Aberdeenshire Council has moved into its recovery phase as it supports communities impacted by last week’s heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding. 

First and foremost, the council’s thoughts are with the family and friends of a woman who remains missing having been feared swept away at the River Don near Monymusk on Friday. As the search continues, our thanks go to all those emergency services teams for their ongoing efforts.   

The unprecedented rainfall and flooding experienced by some areas of Aberdeenshire last week has had a massive impact on communities which have nevertheless proven themselves to be hugely resilient in the of face of such challenging conditions. 

Aboyne recorded as much rain in 48 hours as could be expected during the entire month of November under normal circumstances and wide swathes of low-lying land around Kintore in particular remain submerged after the River Don burst its banks. 

At one point SEPA escalated flood warnings for Ballater, Kemnay, Kintore and Inverurie to severe – the highest alert signifying a significant risk to life or disruption to communities. 

Our frontline teams were quickly working within communities to provide thousands of sandbags – including supplies from colleagues at Moray Council – to safeguard properties across the region. 

Road crews were out clearing drains in advance of the weather warning and that crucial work continued over a number of days to minimise the impact of flooding. 

As a council we continue to work closely with local groups and community councils to ensure they are prepared for emergencies such as these and together we were again able to support those who needed it most. 

Although we set up four rest centres as a place of safety for our residents, only a handful of people required them for a short time, with most people either able to remain in their homes or stay with friends and family. Some communities also stood up their own centres to support affected households. 

It was also heartening to hear of so many people taking the time to check on neighbours, the vulnerable and elderly within their communities throughout the emergency. 

Some communities such as Ballater and Banchory suffered power cuts and SSEN were quickly on scene to get supplies back up and running and to provide temporary catering.

 With an improving picture across affected areas on Sunday, the decision was taken to stand down the emergency procedures and move into the recovery phase, but we fully appreciate it will take time for river levels to fall and for flooding to recede in many areas. 

Council services are now focused on ensuring communities are reconnected and things can slowly start to return to normal, but conscious that some households and businesses have been badly affected by flooding. 

A key aspect of our recovery phase will be getting our roads and footways cleared and repaired where required. While it has been possible to reopen a small number of flooded roads as the situation slowly improves, many roads will remain closed until water levels drop or until such time as essential repairs can be carried out which may take a number of days. 

Roads users are also being urged to be patient and drive with extreme caution in flood affected areas as many roads will still be affected by water running off adjacent fields, with debris on the roads or with potholes that have been created as a result of the flooding. In addition, driving through flooded roads can cause a bow wave of further flooding to adjacent properties adding to the distress already caused to those affected.

We will be inspecting Bridge of Feugh today (Mon) which remains closed as a precaution and will also be undertaking similar investigations at many of our bridges given the volume of water and debris which will take several weeks to complete. 

Council Leader Cllr Mark Findlater said: “I want to thank all those communities impacted by the heavy rain and flooding for rallying round and supporting one another during what were very difficult conditions, particularly during the nights when we knew river levels were rising fast. I would also like to put on record my thanks to the Council frontline teams who did amazing work across Aberdeenshire, the officers who coordinated our response and the many staff from across the authority who volunteered to help ensure support was there for communities which needed it.” 

Council Chief Executive Jim Savege added: “It is deeply sad to still have one of our community missing from the floodwaters from Friday. While we’re starting to see river levels recede and flooded areas slowly beginning to clear, we are under no illusion that for many in our communities the damage caused by flooding is a very pressing matter. This is a difficult time for those who have been flooded and we will be supporting them in clear-up operations wherever we can."