Flood fears a year after Frank

Ballater was swamped when the River Dee burst its banks
Ballater was swamped when the River Dee burst its banks

The impact of Storm Frank is still being felt on the first anniversary of the devastating floods which hit parts of Aberdeenshire.

Around 70 families have yet to return to their homes and some businesses are not up and running 12 months on from the damaging weather.

The village is still trying to get back on its feet one year on

The village is still trying to get back on its feet one year on

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett is questioning whether the Scottish Government is doing all it can to protect communities such as Ballater and Kemnay from a repeat of the 2015 incident.

Mr Burnett, who recently raised the issue at Holyrood, said: “Aberdeenshire Council has been stretched to the limit, spending more than £11million on the clean-up bill already.

“Local residents will be very disappointed indeed to see that there is no planned increase in the budget for flooding for next year.

“There are genuine concerns in Aberdeenshire that the existing flood defences and the additional measures that have been taken so far are inadequate to cope with a repeat of the 2015 floods.”

In Ballater, efforts have been continuing throughout the year to try and restore the village to something like pre-Storm Frank.

Barry Florence, of HM Sheridan Butchers, told the Piper there is still some way to go.

Sheridans was up and running again 13 weeks after the flooding, but others have not been so fortunate.

Mr Florence said: “I would say there is about 80 per cent recovery. Some people are still out of their homes and there are businesses which have still to reopen, so we still have a bit to go. We are looking to put this year behind us and hope for a good 2017.”

Local politicians have been doing all they can to help the recovery.

Councillor Geva Blackett said: “Some of the scars from the storm are still evident and they are not all physical.

“However there has been a huge effort put into the recovery across the board – as demonstrated by the rebranding and launch of the “Can do Country” video - and we will continue to rebuild lives and businesses to ensure that Ballater and indeed the rest of Royal Deeside is recognised as a world-class tourist destination with a sustainable future.”

Katrina Farquhar, who has just stood down as a councillor, said: “One year on from the floods is quite poignant and the village and surrounding area are very reflective on the last year.

“It is incredible the year has passed so quickly but sad we still have residents not back in their homes. No one appreciated how long a process it would be and it has been particularly difficult for some.”

Councillor Peter Argyle said: “The impact of Storm Frank on Ballater was enormous, indeed heart-breaking and yet the way the community rallied, neighbours supporting each other and all working to get the village back on its feet has rightly drawn national and international admiration. Her Majesty’s visit was recognition of this. A vast amount of work has been done by residents and by the business community to get Ballater ‘open for business’, with the willing support of the council and other agencies.”