The Scottish Government has faced criticism it has been slow to respond to the worst flooding seen in years.
But yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised a life raft of financial measures to help those caught up in the deluge, which has left scenes of devastation in its wake. She vowed:
- Every home, business or charity directly affected by flooding will get a £1,500 grant.
- Any flooded business which has been severely affected can apply for an extra £3,000 grant.
- Councils will share £5m to mend key infrastructure, like roads and bridges.
- Up to £1m to be given to farmers to help them fix damaged floodbanks.
Speaking during a visit to Inverurie, which was swamped when the River Don burst its banks last week, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is committed to providing the support needed to help individuals, business and communities to recover from the damage caused by this unprecedented severe weather, with additional support of more than £12m.
“With this new funding, every household and business premises that has seen flood water damage will be able to claim a grant of £1,500 from their local authority.
“They can use this to replace lost or damaged items or to take steps to help flood proof their home.”
Residents across swathes of Aberdeenshire are currently trying to salvage sodden possessions and beginning to clear out their homes, after the Rivers Dee, Don and Ythan burst their banks in the early hours of Friday.
Dozens of homes were evacuated in Inverurie, Port Elphinstone and Ellon as the River Don swelled to its highest levels in 45 years and sent flood waters racing down the streets.Kemnay, Culter and Kintore were badly hit.
The Donside area, Keith, Huntly, Turriff, Kintore and parts of Aberdeen were also affected by the flooding.
During her visit to Inverurie, the First Minister spoke to residents in Canal Crescent and Ritchie Row, where homes suffered when the River Don topped its banks, before joining North East MP Alex Salmond at the Inverurie Academy rest centre.
Some people were pumping out water while others used shovels and brushes to try to get rid of the remaining flood water.
Residents were throwing their damaged belongings in skips and electrical engineers were out tending to a sub station.
Ms Sturgeon said she was heartened by the people’s resilience.
“Our emergency services, police, fire, councils, utility companies, transport operators – everybody has pulled together,” she said.
“You can’t exaggerate the devastation, but it has also brought out the best in communities as they respond.”
SNP ministers had already pledged £4m towards the flooding crisis in last month’s budget but have now pledged another £12m, including up to £5m from the UK Government’s coffers.
The offer of a cash lifeline from the government has been welcomed by the NFU.
NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “We will work with Government over the next few days to ensure that this money gets to where it most needed.”
The cash life raft was also hailed as “much needed investment” by the Scottish Conservatives.
Their spokesman said: “The UK Government has made around £9 million available through the Barnett Formula, and that alongside today’s announcement will be of great assistance.”
However the £1,500 per household recovery grant is three times higher than that promised to flood victims in England.
The announcement has sparked anger from the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign group which said the financial help “should be determined by the extent of damage suffered rather than which side of Hadrian’s Wall they happen to be on”.
Meanwhile, river levels are starting to drop but forecasters have warned fresh downpours in North East Scotland, which were due to hit last night and today, would slow the flood water’s retreat.
Greg Wolverson, an operational meteorologist with the Met Office, said: “The whole area is a lot more sensitive than it normally would be.
“We are expecting further rainfall tonight and during Sunday, though it’s not expected to be anywhere near as heavy or prolonged as we had.
“But it could still bring some impacts – it’s the extra top-up of rain.
“The rain moves in from the south on Saturday evening and overnight and then we are liable for a couple of showers during Sunday afternoon period in North Eastern Scotland, which might just be on the heavy side at times, so there is a yellow warning across the North East of Scotland.”