FLOOD warnings remained in place across Scotland last night as rain, wind and high tides continued to batter the country.
More than 20 warnings of expected flooding were active as fears of the potential impact of the bad weather spread to the east coast of Scotland. Although there were no major incidents by last night a number of properties across Dumfries and Galloway were evacuated amid concerns of rising water.
Several families in Port William were forced to flee from their homes, while three families had to be evacuated from Queensberry Bay Caravan Park, in Powfoot just outside Annan.
Properties in Annan, Garlieston, Kirkcudbright, Portpatrick and the Isle of Whithorn were also reported to have sustained damage due to flooding.
But concerns of major problems caused by a storm surge in coastal areas failed to materialise as winds dropped, limiting the impact of high tides around the Firth of Forth – much to the relief of local communities.
While forecasters predicted an improving weather picture in the coming days, fears remained that rain falling on already saturated ground could continue to cause difficulties in some areas.
Meanwhile, in England and Wales the public were warned to brace themselves for further floods on the coast and rivers, with the Environment Agency saying the risk of coastal flooding could last into next week.
In Scotland, the bad weather conditions in the west on Friday continued to have an impact yesterday, with Motherwell’s football match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Fir Park.
But the east of the country became the focus of concerns as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) warned that high tides coupled with a large storm surge could affect the Forth estuary and low-lying areas along the Firth of Forth.
The agency warned people to avoid coastal promenades, as waves and spray were likely in exposed areas.
“The main focus of concern is on coastal settlements along the east coast from Tayport
in Fife to Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders, including communities in South Fife, East Lothian and Falkirk,” the agency said.
“River and loch levels remain high, but the picture is generally improving, with some respite until further rain on Sunday afternoon.”
By yesterday evening it appeared that the tidal surge had failed to bring any major flooding.
In Musselburgh, East Lothian, people gathered on the footbridge near where the River Esk meets the Firth of Forth to watch the rising tide, while council workers were laying flood barriers, and coastguard and police were on standby.
The footbridge was later closed as a precaution as waters eventually topped the bankside cycle path, rising to the bottom of the bridge but then receding.
The Firth of Forth appeared calm, and there was no wind – which coastguard workers on the scene said explained the relatively low level of flooding.
Sandy Baptie, emergency planning and risk manager for East Lothian Council, said: “This is all about insuring
that we can protect property and maintain the safety of residents.
“We have put up barriers in front of some properties, and sandbags for others.
“We don’t expect flooding because we’ve put in place these preventative measures. We will keep monitoring it, and if there are rising levels in particular places we have a contingency of more sandbags that we can put down.”
At 10am yesterday, there were 19 flood alerts – “possible flooding, be prepared” – on Sepa’s website, and 23 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected and immediate action required.
By 5.30pm, 16 alerts and 21 warnings remained in place across Scotland, particularly around Edinburgh and the
Lothians, Fife and Tayside.
There was some respite yesterday for the west of Scotland, after Friday’s storms saw homes flooded and people evacuated as a tidal surge combined with rain and high winds of more than 60mph.
Towns such as Ardrossan and Dumbarton were worst hit, with waves crashing over esplanades and roads engulfed in water. Dumfries and Galloway was badly affected by flooding.
Many parts of England and Wales were badly affected by the weather yesterday, with the Environment Agency
saying the south and west coast and the Severn estuary remained at risk of coastal flooding into the early part of next week.
Searches continued in south Devon for missing 18-year-old Harry Martin, with more than 100 people volunteering to look for him. The university student was last seen on Thursday afternoon leaving his home in Newton Ferrers, near Plymouth, to take photographs of the bad weather.
Two people have already died in the storms. A 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night, and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.
A man in Aberystwyth had to be picked up by lifeboat after he defied police warnings and photographed waves from a harbour jetty. Rescue crews used their dinghy to strap a lifejacket on him and brought him ashore.
And in Newquay, Cornwall, a man was pulled from the sea by police officers yesterday after being seen in waist-high water.
In Scotland, forecaster Peter Sloss, from the Met Office in Aberdeen, said the weather would improve as the week got under way.
“We’ll still get periods of unsettled weather, with rain coming in on Sunday afternoon and evening,” he said.