Floodwater pours into cancer ward

AN 80-year-old widow suffering from motor neurone disease today told of her panic as floodwater streamed through the roof of a cancer ward at the Western General Hospital, soaking her while she lay in her sick bed. Goldie Lyall said she was stunned when water began pouring on to her from above a window, flooding room six of the Marie Curie Hospice ward during torrential rain.

AN 80-year-old widow suffering from motor neurone disease today told of her panic as floodwater streamed through the roof of a cancer ward at the Western General Hospital, soaking her while she lay in her sick bed. Goldie Lyall said she was stunned when water began pouring on to her from above a window, flooding room six of the Marie Curie Hospice ward during torrential rain.

Nurses rushed to remove Mrs Lyall from the bed before transferring her and three neighbouring patients to another room.

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The widow said it was not the first time water had leaked into the ward, which houses terminally ill cancer sufferers while refurbishment work continues on Marie Curie’s building in Fairmilehead.

Politicians today said the incident, which occurred during last Wednesday’s downpours, was further proof that health boards were being “starved of funds” and called for hospital maintenance to be reviewed urgently.

Bosses at NHS Lothian have apologised and said emergency night-time repair work on the ward’s roof was carried out by steeplejacks over the weekend.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Mrs Lyall, who communicates through sign language, told the Evening News: “The water was coming from the top of the window. A lot of water was coming in. And when the water started to pour in, very quickly the fire alarms started going off. It was chaos.”

Mrs Lyall said water began to stream in at around 7pm last Wednesday and that she was transferred to room two of the Marie Curie ward an hour later.

She said: “They got me out before I got too wet. But I was hyperventilating. I felt absolutely awful – indescribably bad. I panicked when I saw the water coming in.”

Mrs Lyall’s daughter, Harriet, 54, who cares for her mother full-time, said: “The staff here are doing their level best, but how can they do a proper job if there’s water coming in the window, the electrics are short-circuiting and the fire brigade are being called in?

“The maintenance of the building needs to be examined. I would not have expected something like this. I feel let down.”

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Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “It’s clear that the Scottish Government are starving our boards of even the most basic maintenance funds. Nicola Sturgeon needs to get a grip.

“Her priority should be ensuring that all of our hospitals are wind and water-tight at the very least.”

Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “The important thing is for any maintenance lessons to be learned and acted upon.”

George Curley, head of estates services at NHS Lothian, said: “This should not have happened and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience and distress caused.”

A Marie Curie spokesman said: “We’ve been assured by NHS Lothian that the damage is being repaired.”

Contractors in firing line as heavy flooding wreaks havoc

Contractors building a new £11.5 million flood defence system were today criticised by residents after a deluge of water wreaked havoc on dozens of homes and left at least one uninhabitable.

Residents in the Colonies at Stockbridge were today continuing to come to terms with the devastating flooding, which left streets submerged and householders looking on helplessly as water poured into their homes.

Many of the city’s parks were also transformed into temporary lakes following Saturday’s incessant downpour, which saw the Water of Leith burst its banks.

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The majority at the Colonies narrowly avoided catastrophe, with the flow stopping just as their basements neared capacity, but others were not so fortunate. Many criticised Lagan Construction, which is working with City of Edinburgh Council on a flood defence scheme, which was supposed to protect properties, after a barricade of sandbags was reportedly washed away.

Water which rushed into Alison Differ’s home in Glenogle Terrace was knee-high before a council response team arrived with sandbags.

“We tried to use pillows or anything we could, but it was too late because the cellar had filled up,” she said yesterday, as insurance surveyors assessed the extent of the damage in her home of two-and-a-half years.

“It rose into the house. We were panicking. There was nothing else we could do. It was horrendous. I am angry about the time it took before anything was done.”

Ms Differ was forced to find an apartment on Saturday night and does not yet know when she will be able to return to the Colonies.

Those who had risen early enough to see the water begin to gush into Bell Place, Kemp Place and Teviotdale Place made frantic efforts to alert neighbours to the danger. Dr Stephen Jones, of Dunrobin Place, watched as roads filled up “like a bathtub” at around 8am.

“I found myself running down the street banging on every door,” he said. “By 9am a lot of people were aware of it and it was a community response.”

Tom Edmonds was expecting to sleep off a hangover on Saturday morning, but instead found himself using a saucepan to scoop water from his front entrance.

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Water underneath the floorboards came within an inch of entering his home, although walls had become damp and, as in many of the estimated 40 properties which were affected, the insurance company had been called in.

Some said they believed the damage could have been prevented, had the contractors put more robust temporary measures in place.

Dr Jones said that some existing garden walls had been demolished, allowing the water to flood in after a weak point in an unfinished part of the new defence was breached.

“They shouldn’t have dismantled the existing flood defence walls before the new flood defence wall was watertight,” he said. “I think the flood was avoidable.”

Mark Enos, of Kemp Place, added: “What happened is they have taken down some old walls and put sandbags in place. But they needed to take better precautions. They underestimated the power of the water.”

Rose Pipes, of Avondale Place, has written a book on the history of the Colonies and said the flooding had not been as bad as in 2000, when a similar event occurred, but that householders had still been “deeply anxious” as the waters rose rapidly.

“It was a bit like deja vu”, she said. “I’ve been told that the weather warnings they were given said there wouldn’t be as much rain. That may have influenced the extent of the protection they put in place.

“Someone came and knocked on my door at 8am. I moved the car then did my best to get some sort of protection to the vents. With the help of a neighbour I filled sacks with earth as the council hadn’t appeared with sandbags. It was very scary and it was rising so fast.”

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Emergency services and council staff arrived on the scene at around 10am, residents said.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said that, while the completed parts of the flood defence system had stood firm, temporary structures had been breached by the downpour.

They added: “The council’s taskforce teams are working to clean up affected areas, clearing mud and debris from streets and pavements.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Accies cricket ground and Inch Park were badly flooded, while severe flooding on the approach road to Edinburgh Airport caused chaos for travellers, as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued 13 flood warnings in Edinburgh and the Lothians and the Borders. The Edinburgh City bypass was closed between Hermiston Gait and Straiton at around 9am due to flooding, but re-opened later in the day.

The weather was continuing to cause problems for emergency services yesterday.

Two cars collided on Ecclesmachan Road, Uphall, at just before 8am, causing one vehicle to go off the road into a boggy embankment. A spokesperson for the fire service said they had faced challenges in cutting a 21-year-old male from his vehicle, due to the soft surface.

He was eventually transported to the ERI with suspected head trauma and spinal injuries. The road was closed for around four hours for an accident investigation.

Leaving a bad taste

SEVERE flooding in the Meadows led to the Taste of Edinburgh event being cancelled over health and safety concerns.

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The annual event had expected to serve up an array of gourmet dishes to as many as 30,000 visitors, but the torrential rain on Saturday left the site in an unsafe state.

Organisers had been prepared for wet weather and as well as advising visitors to wear wellies had made preparations to ensure the event was not spoiled, with temporary roadways built for vehicle access, and pedestrian walkways created to protect the ground.

In the end, however, the rain proved too great, and organisers were forced to admit the “challenging” conditions had left them no choice. Justin Clarke, CEO of Taste Festivals said: “We are all absolutely devastated. So much hard work has gone into making this show happen with the event team, sponsors, restaurants, suppliers and exhibitors all going above and beyond.”

He added that all tickets for Saturday and Sunday would be refunded.

To compensate for the loss of the event, chefs Mark Greenaway of Mark Greenaway Restaurant and Paul Whitecross of Angels and Bagpipes secured the Royal Dick Wine Bar and Restaurant at Summerhall arts centre and offered free food.

More than 500 people turned out and were served scallop and pea mousse, 11-hour slow roasted pork belly and pomme puree or braised lamb shoulder followed by Eaton Mess. Over 2000 platefuls were dished out.

Sun on Thursday

A SEPA flood warning remained in place for Edinburgh and the Lothians this morning as rain continued to fall on the Capital.

The Met Office said today that light rain is expected to continue into the early afternoon, with temperatures reaching a high of 13 degrees.

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Visibility is predicted to remain moderate throughout today.

Light rain is forecast to fall tomorrow morning, with a heavier downpour due to follow in the afternoon and continue into the night.

Heavy rain is predicted on Wednesday morning and will resume in the late evening, after a brief respite during the afternoon and early evening.

Thunder storms could occur tomorrow and Wednesday.

The week’s first period of sustained sunshine is predicted for Thursday, with it should remain dry, before light rain returns on Friday. Forecasters warned there is no let-up in sight with the wet weather expected to continue into August.

Paul Knightley of MeteoGroup said: “It’s diabolical. Temperatures will be well below average and a touch of frost will be no surprise in the Highlands.”

And the Met Office said: “A long spell of sunny weather is unlikely.”

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