Council says that lessons will be learned from flood response

Angus Council has defended its response to last week’s flooding incidents in the county, as the area was battered by unprecedented amounts of rain over four days.

Mark Dowie
Thursday, 24th November 2022, 3:00pm
Council says that lessons will be learned from flood response

It confirmed that pump stations to remove surface water did not start automatically as flooding hit the county after a weather warning was issued in the north east of Scotland on Friday.

The local authority said that two of three pump stations aimed at removing surface water from the town's River Street did not start automatically when water was detected, but the main flood defence held, and the £16 million Brechin Flood Prevention Scheme, completed in 2015, proved to be "effective".

A council spokesperson said: “The main flood defence, which contains the South Esk River, held.

"This is despite levels provisionally reported by SEPA being at 3.520m – 333mm higher than 2015 flood event – which is the highest ever on record.

“Had these defences not been in place, there would have been widespread and potentially dangerous flooding of an estimated 332 properties, beyond anything yet experienced by Brechin.

“Two of three pump stations which remove surface water from River Street from run-off and other sources, did not start automatically when water was detected.

"As soon as this was identified, a council officer attended, and the pumps were successfully started by that engineer at around 5pm on Friday. These pumps were inspected in August and were set to automatically operate at that time.”

The council said the Angus area had experienced "extremely widespread, heavy and persistent rain".

The Met Office recorded 90mm of rain falling in parts of Angus in the 48-hour period between Thursday and Friday when a weather warning was in place, with the rain exceeding the November monthly average.

Those in affected properties were advised to evacuate and spend the night at the community campus amid fears of further flooding on Saturday.

From Thursday (November 17) until Sunday (November 20) Angus experienced extremely widespread, heavy and persistent rain with an Amber weather warning in place for midnight-3pm on Friday.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), issued multiple flood warnings on several rivers throughout the day, with warning’s for the South Esk in Brechin and Finavon and Tannadice being raied to Severe, the highest warning possible indicating a danger to life.

Updated flood warnings were also issued for the Brothock Water and the River North Esk.

At 6pm on Friday the Tayside Resilience Partnership2 declared a Major Incident for Angus due to the high number of flooding incidents across the whole of the county and the level of demand placed on responding services.

The spokesperson said that the council’s absolute priority was acting to safeguard residents.

They continued: “Under these unprecedented circumstances, it was inevitable that some areas across Angus would unfortunately flood.

“However, the absolute priority for Angus Council and its partners was to prevent the very real danger to the loss of life. This will always be the priority and the council stands by its decisions.

“Staff were deployed across the Angus area and working from Friday morning and throughout the weekend. Given the volume and magnitude of the issues faced, the council’s response prioritised risks to life issues.

The spokesperson also said that Arbroath’s Brothock Flood Protection Scheme had functioned “extremely well” despite being unfinished.

This scheme is designed and built to protect Arbroath from flooding from the Brothock Water and the local authority said that, had the scheme not been in place, it is predicted that around 674 Arbroath homes and businesses, including supported housing and vulnerable households, would have experienced severe flooding.

It also prevented flooding of key transport links including the railway line, the A92 and A933.

There were areas around Letham Grange that did experience flooding, but these were not part of the scheme and the flooding there was entirely due to the high volume of surface water from the exceptionally heavy rainfall, in common with other areas across Angus.

Margo Williamson, Angus Council chief executive, commended staff for their response to the emergency.

She said: “Council officers worked tirelessly to respond to the worst flooding we have experienced for a very long time.

"The intensity of the rain and the speed of the flooding was unprecedented, meaning that every single area of Angus was affected simultaneously.

“I am immensely proud of the efforts of my colleagues and our partners, as I recognise that had steps not been taken to improve flood prevention, the situation would have been immeasurably worse and perhaps lives endangered.”

Councillor Beth Whiteside, council leader, said: “Anyone who was anywhere in Angus on Friday can be in little doubt that the challenges faced by responders was huge.

“I would like to add my thanks to all staff, partners and volunteers who played a part in preventing loss of life and the preservation of so many homes and businesses. I would add that I’m concerned that with climate change, we will be faced with challenges like this on a more frequent basis.”

The council spokesperson added that, as with all such events the local authority’s actions will be reviewed, and lessons identified.

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