Saturday, November 07, 2009

Huntly - Monday and Saturday

Work took me to Huntly on Monday, in the aftermath of the floods which saw around 100 people evacuated from their homes.

Almost a month's rainfall in 24 hours, allied to ground already saturated from previous rainfall, saw the River Deveron rise dramatically overnight as water ran straight off the hills. As the river rose, the burn which flows through The Meadows estate quickly backed up and burst its banks in the early hours of the morning, flooding the neighbouring housing estate and the nearby Meadows care home.

First stop was the Stewart's Hall, where many of those affected were awaiting meetings with representatives of Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Housing, to try and sort out what could be done until their homes were again habitable. Alex Salmond, who is the local MSP, and Cllr Joanna Strathdee, were also there to offer their support.

With the floodwater beginning to slowly drain away, the clean-up operation was getting underway. However, with furniture, carpets, walls and floors damaged beyond repair, it could be weeks if not months before some people are able to return to their homes. It's hard to offer words of comfort in these circumstances, but amongst the residents I spoke to, many of whom were still coming to terms with what had happened, there was a stoic determination to soldier on and to return to normality as soon as was possible.

Later, Joanna and I went round the housing estate to see for ourselves how the clean-up operation was progressing. We also took a walk along the Deveron down by Huntly Castle, which had by that stage begun to return to its normal levels. Even there, down by the Nordic Ski Centre, the extent of the damage was quite remarkable.

Here's a photo of debris, including planks from the scaffolding which had been on the A96 bridge:

The gravel from the riverside footpath was swept away (above), leaving the trench below:

A flooded car park. The water had fallen considerably by the time this was taken:

The Deveron in full spate, with the riverside path turned into a canal:

However, today saw the second weekend of the Huntly Hairst festival, along with a Continental and Farmers market. I headed along in the afternoon to take a wander round and chat with folk about how the town was responding to Monday's events.

A slightly more sedate Deveron today:

Today's market:

There's a fantastic community spirit in Huntly, and it's been great to see the way that local people have rallied round. However, those still out of their homes are likely to need help for some time to come. Life goes on, but we shouldn't forget that there's still a lot to do to return life to normal for the folk who lost their homes last week.

No comments: