Centuries ago there was Jethart Justice – and this week that same self-reliance was brought once again to the fore.
For following the town centre’s second flash flood in just 16 months on Saturday, locals have set up a resilience group (associated with Scottish Borders Council) of 15 volunteers. They plan a central sandbag store and access to a JCB digger to clear the problem Skip Running Burn grill before it blocks.
Organiser, community councillor Charlie Young, who is also an SBC sub-contractor, said: “I’m not a blame person, but it took over an hour for a machine to arrive (to dig out the blocked burn) and I’m thinking, ‘we could do it quicker than this’. We are not some sort of have-a-go heroes, we’re all professional guys – builders, groundsmen, we’ve got digger tickets.”
When the rescue services and council arrived, the group would step back and take instruction, he said.
Another Jedburgh man, who has joined the volunteer group, said on Facebook: “We WILL take care of our own. The whole thing has been a nightmare. However, we will get through it as we are Jethart folk and won’t be beat.”
Monday saw around 20 council staff continue to help in the clean-up of homes and businesses following Saturday’s 6pm flood which council emergency planning officer Jim Fraser said was about half as bad as August 2012’s multi-thousand pound disaster.
There was no official weather warning.
A council statement said: “While there was a general flood alert issued by SEPA at 2.27pm for Saturday evening, there were no specific alerts for the Jedburgh area.” Council staff checked and cleared the burn grill at 2pm and at 4.30pm on Saturday, but at 5.45pm, the burn burst its banks. Two houses were flooded in Blackhills Close, with one resident forced to leave, and High Street businesses were again affected.
Around 40 firefighters in eight appliances attended. Firefighters were also called to flooding in Denholm, Kelso, Eyemouth and Hawick.
Mr Fraser told TheSouthern a fire officer had independently seen the grill at 5pm and that it had been clear: “We think what’s happened is the water has come down and with that has been silt that has acted as a plug on the grill and water has come over. We will be doing a more thorough report today (Monday).”
He said the co-ordinated response had been very efficient and effective.
Councillor Jim Brown said on Facebook he hoped to get SBC’s £50,000 short-term works brought forward.
He commented: “It has been another sad day for Jed. It’s not the case that nothing can be done, proper design of the new culvert grill is essential.”
And he said, in his post, the longer term £450,000 solution of a replacement grill and overflow system is factored into SBC’s budget “for future years”.
Local MSP John Lamont said: “The time for discussing what to do is over. The town now needs to see real action to remove the risk of this happening again.”
Community councillor Kevin Hill said action is needed: “Something needs to be done and sooner rather than later.”
The weather expected to be calmer for Christmas and Boxing Day but SBC said there was a Yellow wind warning for Friday, adding staff would be monitoring the situation.