How communities have rallied to help flood victims

Residents clear their homes of damaged belongings after the River Dee burst its banks. Picture Getty
Residents clear their homes of damaged belongings after the River Dee burst its banks. Picture Getty
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THE “extraordinary compassion and generosity” of flood-stricken communities has been praised amid unprecedented donations of money, time and hard graft by those fighting to keep their neighbours safe and warm.

More than £10,000 has been raised in just three days to support victims of flooding in Deeside, with squads of volunteers working across Aberdeenshire to help protect properties and keep supplies running to those cut off by road closures and rising water levels.

A network of helpers has been raised through social media to deliver essentials to the worst-hit areas, including sandbags, food, generators and mobile phones for those still affected by damaged telecom lines all being distributed.

The volunteers include a group of Aberdeen joiners made redundant before Christmas who wanted to offer their services to those who need them.

Simon Fedo, treasurer of Ballater Charity Chiels, which raises money for local causes, said the emergency flooding fund had been set up on Hogmanay with donations arriving since then – the original target had been £3,000.

He said: “The effects of the floods have been devastating and some people have lost everything they have got. Water levels were three to four feet up in some properties.

There has been a tremendous desire to help people. People are basically good and they want to help their fellow human beings where they can

“We are assessing those most in need but some of the money has gone out already, for those who really have nothing now. It will allow them to just go and buy some clothes and other essentials, anything that will help them to get going again. “There is a very strong sense of community in Ballater.”

Storm damage has rendered Braemar largely inaccessible following the closure of Invercauld Bridge, around two miles east of the village, with the road south also blocked in parts due to flood water.

Councillor Geva Blackett, who represents Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, said the community had worked to keep essential supplies moving into the village.

She said: “There has been a tremendous desire to help people. People are basically good and they want to help their fellow human beings where they can.”

As water levels continued to rise in Aberdeenshire last night, around 15,000 empty sandbags were driven to Aboyne from Angus by one Deeside resident with a squad of volunteers waiting to fill them with sand donated by Miller Plant in Inverurie. CHAP Construction has also donated to the flood defences.

Offers of generators, petrol and dehumidifiers were being exchanged on social media through the night. Long-term holiday accommodation was also flagged up for those families who had to leave their homes due to flood damage.

Meanwhile, one Braemar church has called on people to fill shoeboxes for children who lost their Christmas presents to flood water, with some planning how to celebrate the New Year once this part of Deeside dries out.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “I cannot help but be inspired by the astonishing spirit I see in every community hit by the recent flooding. Volunteers out in all weathers, braving the elements to help their communities; neighbours stepping up to help those less able.

“That’s been the story across Scotland over the last couple of weeks. It shows that our sense of community and of common purpose is alive and well. Every one of them deserves recognition and praise.”

Stuart Donaldson, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, urged everyone who could help to contributed to the community effort.

He said: “The horrendous weather which has led to the flooding in upper Deeside seems relentless at the moment, however, the local community have also been relentless in their support for each other. The spirit of generosity and compassion has been extraordinary in Ballater, Braemar and the surrounding communities.

“The emergency services, Aberdeenshire Council, The Scottish Government and SSE have been working tirelessly to do all the can in this very difficult situation and their efforts should be commended.

“These efforts have complimented the hard work and generosity of the local community, organisations, businesses and individuals throughout Deeside and Aberdeenshire.”