First Minister predicts a ‘long road to recovery’ for flood-hit town

First Minister predicts a ‘long road to recovery’ for flood-hit town

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said there will be a “long road to recovery” for those impacted by Storm Babet.

Speaking during a visit to Brechin, Angus, where the storm – which claimed the lives of six people across the UK – hit hardest, with the River South Esk bursting its banks and flooding dozens of homes, Mr Yousaf said the local council would receive the funding its needs to recover.

But he warned that clean-up after the flooding would likely take time.

Speaking to one resident – who stood on a balcony above Mr Yousaf – the First Minister said: “We’ll support you as much as we can.”

He added: “It’s going to be a long road to recovery.”

The First Minister later told journalists he would have conversations with the UK Government about funding if required, saying: “We haven’t got to that stage yet, I think it’s important that the assessments are done in terms of the scale of devastation, what the impacts will be and what funding is required.

“Then, of course, if necessary, we’ll have those conversations with the UK Government.”

He added: “I’m very keen to give an assurance to residents here that I’ve spoken to, to businesses here that I’ve spoken to, the Government is there to support them as much as we can during the long road to recovery.”

Residents living in 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.

Person being evacuated from their homes in a kayak
People had to be rescued from their homes as a result of the flooding (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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.

The First Minister’s visit comes after a councillor said some people in Brechin could be out of their homes permanently.

Conservative councillor Gavin Nicol, who represents the Brechin and Edzell ward on Angus Council, called for more funding from the Scottish Government, telling BBC Radio Scotland on Monday: “I can tell you the repercussions of the flooding will take months and years to resolve.

“Angus Council, unfortunately, does not have the resources to do the job, it needs to to protect the residents.

“We really need finance from the Scottish Government in order to protect our residents, to rehome them.

“Some will be out for months, if not permanently.”

Flooded street in Brechin
Flood defences in the town failed as a result of Storm Babet (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said the Scottish Government has to have a “frank” conversation with vulnerable communities on how Scotland prepares for events such as Storm Babet.

She told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “We do have to have some frank conversations with government and our communities because, with the best will in the world, the best flood defences will not give 100% protection 100% of the time.

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 from 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.

Police confirmed on Monday morning that a search is continuing for a second man reported missing on Friday, who is said to have been trapped in a vehicle in floodwater in Marykirk, Aberdeenshire.

Two women also died after a five-vehicle crash on the M4 on Friday morning which is believed to have been weather-related.