DOZENS of Stonehaven residents spent Christmas Day in temporary accommodation yesterday as a clear-up operation got underway in the town following severe flooding.
Heavy rain has now eased in the north-east of Scotland but the residents who were evacauted when the River Carron burst its banks on Sunday remained away from their homes.
Members of the public donated gifts to those who could not be in their own houses over Christmas.
Town leaders heaped praise on the generosity of residents in ensuring all flood victims enjoyed Christmas Day.
Michael Innes, chairman of Stonehaven Community Council, said: “Nobody is homeless in the town. Friends and family have rallied together to help those worst affected by the terrible flooding. We set up a rescue centre at the town hall and we have been inundated with donations, from clothing and bedding to food and presents.
The response was fantastic and overwhelming.”
Retired couple Derek and Marge Acton were forced to leave their riverside home after the floodwater came up through the floorboards for the second time in three years.
But Mrs Acton said: “We’re luckier than some. Our two daughters have homes in the town and we’ve moved in with one, and will enjoy Christmas dinner at the other.
“It’s dreadful that this happened so soon after the floods of 2009. Something has to be done to protect people’s properties.”
There was a further scare early earlier today when a landslip threatened to engulf the Havencourt Care Home, further upriver.
A mountain of mud cascaded down from an embankment behind the Four Season’s property, but stopped short of the front door.
Grampian Police Inspector Kate Stephen said: “It turned out not to be as serious as feared. And, thankfully, the weather seems to be improving. We’ve had no other problems so far.”
It has also been announced that Stonehaven’s annual fireball event will go ahead as normal on 31 December, with all profits being donated to flood-hit residents.
Willie Munro, the area manager for Aberdeenshire Council in Kincardine and Mearns, said: “Our priority for the next few weeks is to help the community to get back on its feet and to make sure that the message is clear to everyone – Stonehaven is open for business.”
Flooding and mudslides devastated the old part of the town, in particular the High Street where the fireball swingers traditionally walk on Hogmanay, leading to fears the ancient tradition would be cancelled.
But the town’s Fireballs Association has decided to stage the event in a bid to boost morale.
Chairwoman Susan Leiper said: “We were asking people what they thought and the message seemed to be we needed a bit of cheer.
“Whatever we raise on the night will be passed over to the flood victims.”
The 45-minute show will begin at midnight in the Old Town.