First Minister to visit flood-hit Brechin as clean up continues

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf (PA}
Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf (PA}

First Minister Humza Yousaf will visit Brechin on Monday to see where the River South Esk burst its banks and flooded dozens of homes last week during Storm Babet.

Residents living on River Street were first alerted to the danger of the body of water overtopping local flood defences on Thursday as heavy downpours caused levels to rise rapidly.

In the early hours of Friday, emergency services stepped up efforts to move people out of their properties as water started to spill over the sides of the defences and engulf the street.

Respite centres were set up in the town for individuals and families forced to leave their homes and residents only started returning in large numbers on Sunday to assess the damage done.

Autumn weather October 22nd 2023
Brian Petrie, a resident of River Street, Brechin, stands inside his house which was flooded by Storm Babet (PA)

Mr Yousaf is expected to meet residents impacted by the flooding during his visit and thank volunteers, local authority staff and emergency service personnel who played a part in the evacuation.

Angus Council said it has had an “overwhelming” response to an appeal for accommodation for people unable to return to their properties because of the damage caused by the floods.

A call for clothing and toiletries for those affected by the floods also led to hundreds of donations, the local authority said.

Two people died during the storm which saw a rare red weather warning issued by authorities in the lead up to it warning of a danger to life in the north east of Scotland.

Autumn weather October 19th 2023
John Stewart with his flood defence outside his home on River Street, Brechin (PA)

On Sunday evening, police released a statement confirming the identity of a woman who died after being swept into the Water of Lee at Glen Esk at around 1.45pm on Thursday.

Wendy Taylor, 57, was described in a tribute penned by her family as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother and “a ray of sunshine” to everyone who knew her.

Elsewhere, a 56-year-old man was also killed on Thursday after a falling tree hit a van near Forfar. He has not yet been named by police.

A search is still ongoing for a second man reported missing to police on Friday, who is said to have been trapped in a vehicle in floodwater in Marykirk, Aberdeenshire.

Autumn weather October 20th 2023
Members of the emergency services help local residents to safety in Brechin (PA)

Most weather warnings expired over the weekend but the Met office issued a yellow ice warning on Sunday evening saying icy patches forming overnight could cause fresh disruption on roads across much of Scotland on Monday morning.

Mr Yousaf said ahead of his scheduled visit: “My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives to the extreme conditions caused by Storm Babet during what will be difficult time.

“I want to pass on my thanks to local authorities, volunteers and the emergency services for all their efforts in these extremely challenging conditions.

“The local community in Brechin, like others across Scotland, has come together to offer support to all those affected by the floods with Angus Council receiving hundreds of offers of alternative accommodation for those forced to leave their homes.

“The process of assessing the full amount of damage caused in all areas affected by the storm is now under way. This will take some time and we are working closely with local authorities to support the people and businesses affected.”

Angus Council chief executive Margo Williamson added: “I am tremendously proud of Angus’ response to Storm Babet.

“Working closely with partners from across Tayside we have done our best to preserve life in extremely challenging conditions.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who supported this effort, particularly our volunteer organisations such as the Red Cross, Voluntary Action Angus, and our Tayside 4×4 drivers who have played a vital part in this operation.

“Our staff in the council, in the Angus Health and Social Care Partnership, and our leisure trust ANGUSAlive, have all gone above and beyond, facing challenges on an unprecedented scale.

“I would also like to reassure the residents of Angus, who have shown such community spirit, that their care and support is our absolute priority, particularly those who are displaced.

“We are now firmly focused on making a full recovery, and this work has already started.”