A NEW alert system, aimed at giving residents of Stonehaven advance warning of a potential flood, was today launched in the Aberdeenshire town which has been devastated by flooding twice since November 2009.
Around 100 residents had to be evacuated from their homes after the latest deluge, only days before Christmas last year, when the River Carron burst its banks for a second time in three years.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to press ahead with plans for a £12 million flood prevention scheme which includes the use of innovative “floating walls” which can be raised from hidden chambers when the River Carron is threatening to overflow, but the scheme is not expected to be completed until mid 2017 at the earliest.
Advance word of flood alerts
The new river flood warning service, operated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, will be used to alert the residents and owners of more than 850 homes and businesses at risk in the town until the flood prevention scheme can be completed.
By signing up to the flood warning service, locals will be given free advance notification when flooding is predicted in the area, providing crucial time to prepare and protect their homes and properties.
The new service was officially launched today by Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change. He said: “I saw the damage and huge distress caused by flooding in Stonehaven first hand last Christmas and welcome any efforts to improve systems that can warn the community of a repeat of the threat of those events.”
“The Scottish Government is pleased to support SEPA in the creation and running of the Carron Water Flood Warning Scheme but to ensure the scheme is as effective as possible, I would encourage Stonehaven residents to sign up to receive the information it provides.
“This is so the community can benefit from the maximum possible warning time in the event of a similar incident. Participating in the warning scheme will help community members to prepare, should any further flooding events occur.”
Richard Brown, the head of hydrology at SEPA, said: “As many residents and businesses in Stonehaven will know, flooding is a real threat. We have seen its devastating impact and know that providing even a short amount of warning time helps people to take action. Although this initiative is designed first and foremost for the people who live and work in Stonehaven, those who travel through or visit the flood risk area will also benefit from using Floodline.”
The new scheme was welcomed by Greig Walker, the chairman of the Stonehaven Flood Action Group. He said: “This new service is long overdue and it’s going to make a big difference to the town. Getting a flood warning service was one of our main aims and objectives when we first set up in January of this year.”
“The warnings we get at the moment are Aberdeenshire-wide and this will be the first time we will have had a flood warning service specific to the Carron and Stonehaven. It will give the residents of Stonehaven a bit more peace of mind while we wait for the flood prevention scheme to be completed.
“The council are talking about not starting work until late 2015 and it could be 2018 before the work is finished.”
Mr Walker added: “The new system won’t stop the floods but it will give people time to get prepared. In 2009 there was no warning of the floods whatsoever.”
Councillor Carl Nelson, the chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, also welcomed the advance warning scheme. He said: “The risk from flooding in Stonehaven has been well documented and the potential risk to property and residents is never far from our minds.
“While we continue to progress the delivery of a Flood Protection Scheme for the town, it is important that residents continue to increase their resilience at an individual property level. This free warning scheme should offer vital advance warning, giving time to help prepare and minimise the impact of any natural event. “
He added: “This system will be a useful addition to measures already in place and highlights the importance of a coordinated approach across partner agencies and the local community. I am sure that it will be well used by locals and visitors to the town.”