“The Nightmare Before Christmas” hits homes

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Stonehaven residents were left devastated after awaking on Sunday morning to discover that the River Carron had burst its banks forcing many out of their homes and damaging the majority of belongings only two days before Christmas.

It’s thought that almost 50 people living within the vicinity of the River Carron - mostly in the Old Town area - were directly affected and many who weren’t already aware of the situation at 4am awoke to find their Christmas trees floating in their living rooms and their presents nowhere to be seen as water reached almost waist height. Water poured in through letter boxes and some residents then looked outside to realise that nothing was sacred as they saw their cars floating down High Street with their interior submerged with muddy water.

The emergency services worked tirelessly through the night to help evacuate people from their homes - many by boat - with the work continuing for days as water was pumped out of homes and businesses as well as from the heavily flooded streets.

It’s just over three years since a similar area was affected by flooding in 2009 after heavy rainfall caused the River Carron to burst its banks. Many of the homeowners were still dealing with the trauma and disaster that those floods caused and getting their homes back to normal. Many of these residents live in fear when heavy rainfall is forecast and this weekend proves why.

Flood barriers were erected in the town by Aberdeenshire Council and sandbags were made available in the Market Square on Saturday evening as water levels continued to rise in the River Carron as rain battered the region.

Malcolm’s Mount West resident Rob Powell has been running a “backyard” weather station since December 2009 and recorded 44mm of rainfall between 1am and 5am on Sunday morning. In the 16 hours from 1pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday, a total of 58mm of rain fell. Mr Powell said: “The heaviest rain that night/morning seemed to be quite local - a station in Newtonhill recorded a similar amount of rain to Stonehaven but Aberdeen only had about 30mm and a station in Catterline only recorded about 11mm.”

A rest centre was set up at Mackie Academy for people evacuated from their homes most of whom had managed to find alternative accommodation with friends or family. Local hotels such as The Belvedere and The Royal offered their rooms to those in need, some of which were taken up.

Molly’s Cafe Bar, who were affected by the tidal floods over two weeks ago, donated food in the morning to those at Mackie Academy and The Belvedere Hotel were on hand to help them out in the afternoon.

However disastrous the flooding was for residents, many people have been overwhelmed at the kindness of people and the offering of their help. Local resident and mother of three Kimberly Stewart came up with the idea of donating gifts to children that have been affected by the floods as she didn’t feel it was fair that some children would have to be without their home and a Santa visit at Christmas. The idea rapidly grew arms and legs and Michelle Ward from the Royal Hotel organised with Stonehaven Roundtable to open up the Town Hall where people could donate Christmas presents for those affected. The response was absolutely phenomenal and Stonehaven resident Sarah Igesund, who has been working voluntarily for Northsound’s Cash for Kids, also sorted out some gifts to donate to the children through their recent appeal. The Roundtable packed their Santa sleigh full of gifts and delivered them to the children from Santa on Christmas Eve.

In true Christmas spirit the town also came together to arrange a Christmas hamper packing session which took place at the Co-op where food items could be donated.

Roads were also affected by heavy flooding closing various stretches of the A90 and Aberdeenshire Council also sent gritters out on Sunday as temperatures were forecast to plummet.