Woman who died in Storm Babet named as residents return to flood damage

Sandbags are placed alongside a collapsed river wall on River Street in Brechin (Neil Pooran/PA)
Sandbags are placed alongside a collapsed river wall on River Street in Brechin (Neil Pooran/PA)

A woman who died during Storm Babet was a beloved wife, mother and grandmother – and “a ray of sunshine” to everyone who knew her, her grieving family have said.

Wendy Taylor, 57, was swept into the Water of Lee at Glen Esk at around 1.45pm on Thursday, and her body was recovered by emergency services a little over two hours later.

Police issued a statement on behalf of Mrs Taylor’s family shortly after 6pm on Sunday. They described her as a “beautiful, kind, funny and caring” person and said they were “absolutely heartbroken” to have lost her.

Storm Babet death Wendy Taylor
Wendy Taylor, 57, who died after being swept into the Water of Lee (Police Scotland)

The statement came the same day residents in the most severely flooded part of Angus started returning to their homes as the clean-up got under way.

Angus and Aberdeenshire were badly hit by the storm and teams have been clearing debris from roads, while those hit by flooding are making repairs.

Residents of River Street in Brechin are trying to dry out as much of their homes as they can, as they survey the damage from the floodwater.

Hundreds fled the street and nearby areas when the River South Esk burst its banks and overtopped flood defences, which sent water pouring into the lower floors of many properties.

Autumn weather October 21st 2023
Residents are returning to survey the damage (Neil Pooran/PA)

David Stewart, 68, was trying to salvage items from the flat he shares with his partner.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s just absolutely mind-blowing. The devastation looks even worse than I thought.”

Brian Petrie, 66, returned to find the lower floor of his house covered in silt and mud, with the carpet squelching as he walked and the fridge upended.

He was in the house as the flooding hit, sheltering upstairs with his 92-year-old mother as water poured in through the letterbox.

She was rescued by Coastguard crews using a dinghy.

Mr Petrie said: “The Coastguards and paramedics got her down the stairs in a stretcher and took her in a dinghy up to the ambulance.”

She is now safe elsewhere in Angus.

Autumn weather October 21st 2023
Brechin suffered major damage (Neil Pooran/PA)

George Wilson returned to find “awful” damage in his ground-floor flat in River Street.

The 66-year-old is documenting the extent of it for insurance purposes.

“I’m still trying to get my head around it,” he said.

Earlier, Angus councillor Gavin Nicol said contaminated sludge and silt is “everywhere” and the damage is “extensive”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, he said some people will not be able to return to their homes before Christmas.

Across Scotland, almost all homes which were hit by power cuts have now been reconnected, according to the Energy Networks Association.

However around 150 properties in Brechin are too badly affected by floodwater for power to be restored safely.

Jacqui Semple, head of risk, resilience and safety for Angus Council, said the local authority is now entering the recovery phase.

During a media briefing, she said the council will assess how many people will need to be rehomed, aiming to complete this work by the end of the week.

Ms Semple also discussed the “well-intentioned” work of a local Angus business which has placed large sandbags along a section of a collapsed river wall in River Street in Brechin.

These will need to be removed, she said, as a structural assessment of the street still needs to take place.

She said: “What could happen is the road could give way.”

The red and yellow weather warnings covering Dundee and the north-east of Scotland have expired and conditions improved on 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 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.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, Wendy Taylor’s family said: “We are absolutely heartbroken to lose Wendy in such tragic circumstances and are still struggling to come to terms with it.

“Wendy was a beautiful, kind, funny and caring person. She was a ray of sunshine for everyone who was fortunate enough to know her.

“Wendy was the beloved wife, best friend and soulmate in life to George, mother to James, Sally and Susanna and Granny to India and George.

“Our family would like to thank Police Scotland for their professionalism and sensitivity in recent days. And in particular Paul Morgan of Police Mountain Rescue for recovering Wendy.

“Thank you to all of our extended family and friends for supporting us through this indescribably difficult time.”

Elsewhere, a 56-year-old man killed on Thursday after a falling tree hit a van near Forfar in Angus has not yet been named.

ScotRail said the majority of its services will be able to run as normal on Sunday, but a number of lines, including Aberdeen to Dundee and Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, remain closed.

Autumn weather October 21st 2023
A car on a bridge washed away by the storm near Dundee (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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.

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.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said water levels in rivers will fall throughout Sunday.

However the public has been warned that dangers from floodwater and damaged infrastructure remains.

Sepa’s flood duty manager, Vincent Fitzsimons, said: “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 floodwaters and it’s important not to put yourself at risk.

“Sepa are removing the majority of local flood warnings but regional flood alerts remain in force in areas like Tayside and Aberdeenshire.

“This reflects not only the dangers which still exist from standing floodwater, and fast-flowing river water, but also that there are important recovery activities under way.”