‘Improving picture’ in worst hit area, but Storm Babet flooding fears remain

The Met Office’s red danger to life weather warning has been cut back from midnight to 6pm in Scotland.

Laura Paterson
Saturday 21 October 2023 17:32 BST
River Street in Brechin as Storm Babet batters the country (Neil Pooran/PA)
River Street in Brechin as Storm Babet batters the country (Neil Pooran/PA) (PA Wire)

The worst hit area in Scotland during Storm Babet is now an “improving picture”, but there are still fears of further floods as a red danger to life weather warning remains in place.

Forecasters have brought forward the end of the red warning in Scotland by six hours, but authorities remain braced for further flooding on Saturday afternoon amid the storm which has claimed the lives of two people north of the border.

People in up to 100 properties across Angus in East Scotland have been rescued from their flooded homes, with some airlifted out, a local authority official has said.

The alert for extreme rain during the storm now ends at 6pm, rather than midnight, and covers a smaller area than on Friday – solely Angus and Aberdeenshire.

Rivers in parts of Scotland hit by floods are expected to hit a second peak later, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) has warned, as dozens of roads and several train lines remain closed.

Jacqui Semple, head of risk, resilience and safety for Angus Council, said people were rescued from between 80 to 100 homes across the region.

In Bridge of Dun, residents were airlifted out via helicopter, while in other areas those stranded were rescued by boats, including canoes.

No-one is now thought to be stranded.

Ms Semple praised the response from those in Angus and elsewhere, saying offers of accommodation have come from the local area and further afield.

She said: “Fortunately the Met Office update and our Sepa update this morning is showing that we have an improving picture and the red warnings and our amber warnings they have been reduced in timescales to 6pm.

“So that means we are looking at definite improvements in our river levels.

“We’re not out of the woods by a long shot. There’s still a lot of rain to come through, but less so, and there is still a lot of water lying right across Angus. Lots of water in the upper catchments that will still have to come down into our rivers.”

Three rest centres set up in Angus provided accommodation for some of those flooded out of their homes, with more than 50 at the one in Brechin.

It remains open, with another in Forfar under review and one in Montrose now closed.

Searches continue for a man reported missing to police at 3am on Friday, said to have been trapped in a vehicle in floodwater in Marykirk, Aberdeenshire.

Scotland’s First Minister urged people to heed the red weather warning and evacuate if instructed.

Humza Yousaf posted on X, formerly Twitter: “A red weather Warning remains in place for Angus & parts of Aberdeenshire.

“Please comply with the advice being given, particularly if you are asked to evacuate, it is for your own safety.

“We continue to engage with local partners & emergency services to co-ordinate our response.”

Pascal Lardet, Sepa flood duty manager, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Further rain is forecast to affect the flooded areas, particularly around Brechin but more widely across Tayside, Angus, Dundee and Aberdeenshire.

“There will be a second peak on large rivers, including the South Esk in Brechin and North Esk and we are also monitoring the River Don closely and there will be further surface water flooding.”

He said the peak in Brechin is not expected to reach the same levels as previously.

As of 1pm on Saturday, Sepa reduced the number of severe flood warnings from five to three – at Kinnaird/Bridge of Dun, Finavon and Tannadice and Brechin.

Flood warnings and flood alerts were also reduced, to 18 and 12 respectively.

Jim Savege, Aberdeenshire Council chief executive, said there was a low level of incidents overnight and the areas’s five rest centres have “not been used that much”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We do have more of a concern though for the rest of the day, particularly around the River Don area, the Inverurie area, and Kintore, Kenmay.

“So we’re just working with other colleagues from Sepa to take a look in terms of what the flood levels are on the rivers, to see if we need to take any more action later today with residents there.”

Dozens of roads have been closed by flooding and fallen trees, including the A90 between Stonehaven and Dundee, the A9 between Tomich and Alness and the A92 near Cupar between Forgan roundabout and Melville Lodges roundabout.

Angus Council said “most” roads are affected in the region.

Network Rail Scotland said train lines between Aberdeen to Elgin and to Dundee remain closed due to the storm, as does Ladybank, Angus, to Perth.

ScotRail said many other services were getting back to normal “much more quickly than expected” including services between Glasgow and Edinburgh to Inverness via Perth.

It also said a “limited service” will be available between Perth and Dundee early on Saturday evening.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “We know the impact the withdrawal of some train services has, but our first priority is always to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.

“We want to thank customers for their continuing patience and understanding as we make all possible efforts to inspect routes that are still closed for damage, before reopening them when it is judged safe to do so.”

Storm Babet has cut power from more than 33,000 customers in Scotland – but the vast majority are now reconnected, energy firm Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said.

As of 4.45pm, work was ongoing to reconnect 700 properties north of the border.

Police Scotland said a falling tree hit a van near Forfar in Angus on Thursday evening, killing the 56-year-old driver.

A 57-year-old woman also died on Thursday after being swept into the Water of Lee, Glen Esk.

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