STORM DESMOND: Clean-up under way in Hawick

A massive clean-up operation is under way in Hawick after devastating floods caused by Storm Desmond forced around 600 residents to evacuate their homes.

By Phil Johnson
Sunday, 6th December 2015, 11:14 pm
Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The flood warning for the River Teviot was withdrawn today and power was restored to properties as work continued to return residents back to their homes safely.

Residents were able to return to evacuated homes this afternoon after they were declared safe by Scottish Borders Council and other emergency services.

The council and several other agencies have been working to get residents back to their homes safely and put in place facilities to assist in the clean-up following the flood.

Around 600 residents in 300 homes were evacuated on Saturday morning when the River Teviot burst its banks, the water level surpassing the heights reached during the 2005 flood in the town. The River Teviot’s highest level was 3.196m on Saturday.

“This event has seen some of the highest river flows for a considerable time,” said Marc Becker, hydrology manager at the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa). “The Teviot at Hawick was the second highest in 30 years.”

Homes close to the River Esk in Langholm were also evacuated on Saturday night as water breached the bank.

Police led evacuations with colleagues from the fire service on Saturday evening in Newcastleton. A rest centre was established in the village hall and 37 people were accommodated, with agencies aided by 14 volunteers.

Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

But Hawick was hit the hardest. Various volunteer groups, Scottish Borders Council, the emergency servives, Borders politicians and individuals from around the town responded quickly to respond to the crisis, helping the most vulnerable and doing their best to limit the damage throughout the town.

But the water could not be kept at bay, with many homes and businesses flooded and parts of roads destroyed.

A woman walks through floodwater in Hawick after the River Teviot burst its banks. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A total of 47 people were accommodated in the rest centre in Teviotdale Leisure Centre from the early hours on Saturday morning.

Borders politicians Calum Kerr, John Lamont and Paul Wheelhouse were among the army of volunteers doing what they could to help over the weekend.

The Hawick Flood Group – set up in the wake of previous floods in the town – thanked volunteers for their work during the bad weather and urged people to support the creation of a new flood prevention scheme which would raise a number of bridges and create upstream reservoirs to store flood water.

Posting on Facebook, the group said: “Thank you for all the kind words for all of our volunteers. In turn, we applaud the efforts of all involved over the last few days, including other volunteer groups such as Mountain Rescue, individuals who helped us and others and of course the emergency services and council employees that made a terrible situation slightly less bad.

“Many have asked what is being done to limit damage in future floods, and the answer is here:

“Please ask your local elected representatives to help support this scheme so it passes through the consultation and funding processes and on into construction as quickly as possible.”

The council said in a statement tonight that it expects waste services to run very close to normal from Monday, with the exception of streets which remain closed. The council is also making plans to put skips in place in these areas to assist with the clean-up efforts.

It is expected that Hawick’s community recycling centre will also be open on Monday.

Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Trinity Primary School will be closed on Monday due to a flooded boiler room. Parents and staff have been informed and it is expected that it will re-open on Tuesday.

Many roads remain impassable in and around Hawick, and 20 roads remain closed across the Borders due to flooding.

The council and other agencies have been working round the clock all weekend to deal with the impact of significant flooding in Hawick and across the Scottish Borders.

Despite improving weather conditions, the risk of flooding is still significant across the region, with a number of roads remaining closed.

A medium flood risk is in effect right across the Borders, with the river levels falling gradually but continuing to remain high.

Jim Renwick walks through his flooded cellar. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Men from the Borders Water Rescue Team survey the damage. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire