Storm Babet: Mass clean-up operation underway with new ice weather warnings issued
A major clean-up operation is underway after Storm Babet forced hundreds to evacuate their homes and claimed the lives of at least two people in Scotland.
The rain weather alerts covering the northeast of Scotland have expired and conditions are expected to improve throughout Sunday. A number of flood warnings remain in place around Scotland, but more of these are expected to be removed later in the day.
The Met Office, however, has warned temperatures are expected to plummet overnight, with a new yellow weather warning issued for ice.
The alert covers most of mainland Scotland, narrowly missing the far west coast, and is in place from 9pm on Sunday through to 9am on Monday.
The storm led to two deaths north of the border and searches continue for a man reported missing to police on Friday, who is said to have been trapped in a vehicle in floodwater in Marykirk, Aberdeenshire.
A 57-year-old woman died on Thursday after being swept into the Water of Lee, Glen Esk, and a 56-year-old man was killed the same day after a falling tree hit a van near Forfar in Angus.
Two people have also died in England, including a woman in her 80s in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and a man in his 60s who was caught in fast-flowing flood water in Shropshire.
Angus council said it is currently carrying out checks on schools and early learning centres to determine whether they are safe or not for staff and pupils to return to.
The local authority area was devastated by record water levels.
Brechin, in Angus, saw major damage, with hundreds of people evacuated from homes as the River South Esk burst its banks, flooding several streets. At one stage the river reached 4.4 metres above normal, half a metre over the highest previously recorded, with levels rendering flood defences unreliable. It meant homes in the town were only accessible by boat over the weekend, officials said.
More than 100 specially trained flood rescue technicians from HM Coastguard were deployed to east Scotland to join the multi-agency response to the rising water levels.
Multiple rest centres were set up in the council area, with more than 50 people opting to stay in one in Brechin. Angus council said temporary accommodation had been found for all of those who stayed at the rest centres.
Main roads through Angus, including part of the A90 between Dundee and Stonehaven were closed over the weekend due to a Sepa flood warning in place, according to Traffic Scotland.
Residents of nearby Bridge of Dun had to be airlifted via helicopter, while in other areas people stranded by floodwater were rescued by boats, including canoes.
Thousands of homes were cut off from power, with SSEN saying the weather brought one of the most challenging storms the network has faced in recent years.
The power company mobilised a 600-strong team, ten times the size of its day-to-day operations.
As at Sunday the team had restored supplies to 37,000 customers and had fixed more than 450 network faults over the past three days.
SSEN confirmed compensation payments of £30 per person are available to residents impacted by power cuts for more than 12 hours for each day without power, to cover food and drink costs.
Sepa's flood duty manager Vincent Fitzsimons said: "The last week has been very challenging for people in Scottish communities, who have experienced another severe weather event.
"While the weather is an improving picture today, and rivers will continue to fall throughout the day, it's important to remember that there are still hazards caused by flood waters and it's important not to put yourself at risk."
ScotRail said the majority of its services will be able to run as normal on Sunday, but a number of lines, including the Fife Circle, the Aberdeen to Dundee services and trains between Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, remain temporarily suspended.
The train company said it will refund any unused tickets because of the weather disruption.
There were also cancellations and severe delays to rail services across the UK, including LNER which advised its customers not to travel due to widespread flooding.
The train operator said it expects disruption to continue today.
In London, police closed King’s Cross station due to overcrowding, as stranded passengers attempting to travel north packed the terminal.
Elsewhere in Scotland more than half of the staff manning a North Sea drilling platform were airlifted to other sites on Saturday after several of its anchors came loose during the storm.
Coastguard helicopters were called upon to move 45 non-essential workers from the Stena Spey to neighbouring platforms and to Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands due to the incident.
The rig is located around 146 miles east of Aberdeen.
On Saturday, the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room met to discuss the “exceptional” levels of rain that had fallen in parts of Scotland during the weekend.
The meeting, chaired by Justice Secretary Angela Constance, heard parts of Scotland are still dealing with the severe flooding caused by Storm Babet while some rivers remain at hazardous levels.
Ms Constance told PA news agency: “Storm Babet’s exceptional level of rain has severely affected parts of Scotland.
“Tragically, the storm has led to lives being lost and I send my sincere condolences to the families affected.
“The storm has caused significant damage and, while flooding is still occurring, it is not expected to be as serious as over the last 24 hours. The impact, however, will be felt in communities for some time to come.
“While many local authorities are still responding to the immediate impacts of the storm, thoughts are now turning to recovery.
“Over the coming days and weeks, we will stay in close contact with local authorities to support the people and businesses affected.”
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