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Further resilience committee meeting on flooding

Published: 5 Dec 2015 21:20

Severe flood warnings for Hawick and Newcastleton.

A second meeting of the Scottish Government's resilience committee has been held on weather this evening, as severe flood warnings were issued for Hawick and Newcastleton in the Borders.

Chaired by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, the meeting saw ministers and key partners updated on the on-going severe weather affecting much of Scotland and, in particular, the Borders, Dumfries and Tayside.

With steps already being taken to address the impact of flooding on communities and key routes and minimise the risk of further disruption, the Deputy First Minister assured the three areas most acutely affected that any necessary extra resources will be mobilised if requested.

Mr Swinney said:

"I have this evening chaired a second meeting of the Scottish Government's resilience committee, SGoRR, where I have made absolutely clear to representatives of the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Tayside that they will receive any emergency help they need during the current severe weather.

"The torrential rain and severe winds are having an impact across the country this evening but it is being felt most acutely in these three areas. While local authorities and emergency services are satisfied they have all the necessary resources at this present time and, while they are responding admirably, I have reassured them they only need to ask should they need further assistance.

"We will remain in close touch with local leaders throughout the night and stand ready to help in any way we can.

"Across the borders, people have already been warned not to travel and in some areas residents are being evacuated from their homes into leisure centres and other local authority facilities. In Hawick and Newcastleton there are severe flood warnings in place and there are a further 73 flood warnings in place nationwide at the present time.

"This weather is expected to last well into tomorrow (Sunday) and we will do all we can to help."

Further alerts are in place for most of Scotland over the next 24 hours (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings/), meaning more rain for already saturated ground.

Mr Swinney, Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown, Flooding Minister Dr Aileen McLeod, Transport Minister Derek Mackay and Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse were joined by key responders including representatives from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, local resilience partners, Police Scotland, Fire and Rescue Service, Transport Scotland and operating companies.

MART (Multi Agency Response Team) partners have been activated and present in the TrafficScotland control centre and will remain operational until after Monday's rush hour.

There has been extensive flooding across Scotland, including the most significant flooding on the River Tay in 12 years. On the M90 the local operating company was deployed to pump and clear water. The A702, A82, A84, A85 and M9 have also been affected by flooding blocking the carriageways. On the M8 (W) at Bathgate a lorry struck the central reservation, causing delays but has now been cleared and a barrier repair undertaken. In the Borders flooding at various locations has led to disruption on the A7.

The Deputy First Minister continued:

"The Scottish Government's Resilience Team (SGoRR) has been in contact with the Met Office throughout the week, receiving regular updates on the developing weather system and its potential impacts.

"The predicted weather warnings of yesterday have been accurate and we are now dealing with a very serious situation. We have seen exceptional rainfall, caused in part by rising temperatures and rapid snow melt, combined with gale force winds.

"It is clear that people across Scotland are experiencing some challenging situations and we will do all we can to help them at this stressful time. Local authorities, Police Scotland, SEPA and resilience teams are all involved in the efforts to mitigate the impacts of flooding and weather issues across the country.

"SEPA have issued numerous flood warnings across the country and we would urge people in those areas to pay attention to the up to date information being provided, consider whether you need to travel and take all possible precautions to stay safe, particularly in the worst affected areas."

Dr McLeod said:

"The situation is being closely monitored by SEPA, and I would encourage everyone to monitor SEPA's Floodline website for the latest flood information and to sign up to receive Floodline warnings direct to their phone.

"Our emergency services and an incredible number of volunteers have been out in force today dealing with flooding issues in their local area and we would like to commend their efforts and the important role they play in dealing with this serious situation."

Richard Brown SEPA's Duty Hydrology Manager said:

"Across Scotland we have seen rivers rising significantly through Saturday and they will remain very high throughout Sunday. This is causing widespread agricultural flooding but is also impacting widely on transport and communities. We are particularly concerned that the flooding situation will deteriorate further this evening in Tayside, the South West of Scotland and the Borders. The risk to communities in Hawick and Newcastleton is such that SEPA, in discussion with emergency responders, has issued Severe Flood Warnings for both towns. Impacts will include widespread property flooding, evacuations, damage to infrastructure and severe transport disruption.

"Currently, it is anticipated that the Tay at Perth will peak at levels not seen since 2006 and the Teviot at Hawick is anticipated to be of a similar scale to the 2005 flood event. Flood levels on the Teith at Callander and the Annan and Esk (Dumfries and Galloway) are also approaching record levels "

Notes to editors

For SEPA live flood updates see www.sepa.org.uk/floodupdates or call Floodline 0345 988 1188.

To sign up for free local Flood Warnings and regional Alerts, or for more information and advice on preparing for flooding, use SEPA's Floodline site www.floodlinescotland.org.uk or call Floodline 0345 988 1188

Members of the public can also use the recently launched Report-a-Flood site
http://www.floodlinescotland.org.uk/report-a-flood

The full alerts, including the Chief Forecaster's Assessment and a map showing the areas included in the alerts, are available at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings/

The Scottish Government's Ready Scotland website provides the public with a range of advice and information on preparing for winter weather. Further information is available at www.readyscotland.org

For real time journey information visit www.trafficscotland.org, follow @trafficscotland on Twitter or call 0800 028 14 14

Rail, ferries and air users should check with individual service operators' websites

CalMac travellers should check the website: www.calmac.co.uk for the latest information. The latest information on that service can be found at www.argyllferries.co.uk