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This needs to stop

Record flood devastates the Whitesands

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By Zac Hannay
Dumfries and West
This needs to stop
DEVASTATING . . . the Whitesands on Friday afternoon Pic: Brian Sherman

DEVASTATING floods hit Dumfries and Galloway last week leaving businesses and homeowners badly affected across the region.

Along the Whitesands in Dumfries a number of businesses were badly affected with some questioning whether they’ll ever open back up their doors again.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said the water levels at the River Nith were the highest ever recorded in 40 years.

Several businesses have suffered with one trader, Rab Smith owner of Domino Entertainments shop, slamming the response from Dumfries and Galloway Council. Other shops feel that suitable help wasn’t given with some even being unable to get sandbags to place at their front doors. It is understood that the severe warning from SEPA was not given until later on in the day, when they realised it would be worse than first thought, this left businesses with little time to act to save stock. Nearly a week on from the ordeal, the destruction left from the floods is still there to see with numerous stock including, fridges, furniture and various other items piled up in a car park on the Whitesands.

Some businesses are now contemplating their future but they all say the same thing “it will happen again unless action is taken”.

‘This needs to stop’

FUTURE WORRY . . . Kaya McNaught from Knox Sports warns that flooding will only happen again unless something is done

KNOX Sports suffered flooding inside the shop and lost some stock.

Water has managed to get inside on a number of occasions in the last nine years after the store had previously went unscathed in the past whenever the Nith burst its banks.

Kaya McNaught re-opened this week, but the clean up effort is still underway, she said: “We have lost stock this time, we don’t usually because we have an upstairs.

“It (the water) would have been five feet high at the front outside. The warning came in too late.

“There were no sandbags left. Something needs done.”

Kaya added: “If they can compensate us then fair enough. But we need measures, we need sandbags and we need a contact at the council.

“It’s three times that this has happened on December 30. Nine years ago, seven years ago and last week.

“I understand it’s a public holiday, however there needs to be some kind of contact that we can get a hold of when this happens.

“We need a mid-term solution such as temporary barriers. And we need reassurances long term for when we’re going to get a flood defence.

“We need it to stop. We can’t keep doing this.

“I know of businesses that are not coming back. We don’t want to move. We’ve been here for years. We’ve invested in our business and we want to stay here.

“It will happen again. That’s the highest we’ve ever seen it.

“My worry is that it’s going to happen more and more. We need it to stop.”

The shop put out a call on social media for dehumidifiers and they were inundated with requests with offers of help. Kaya said: “We would like to thank all of those for their support and offers of help. We couldn’t be more grateful for the help received.”

‘I would like to see all of the elected councillors resign’

FED UP . . . Rab Smith is unlikely to reopen his record shop at its current Whitesands location

TRADER Rab Smith is unlikely to reopen his record shop, Domino Entertainments in the same location, after flooding events destroyed over 60 per cent of his stock.

He said: “We lost 60 to 70 per cent of our stock, we had everything up off the ground and the flood came in at nearly four feet.

“I was here in 1987 and we have had a total of seven floods where water has entered the shop since then.

“At retail prices it’s going to be well over £100,000, maybe closer to £120,000, worth of stock lost.

“We are unlikely to reopen at this location. It’s going to cost me £10-15,000 to get the shop back to normal and then what happens if it happens again in March?

“There is no guarantee either because the SEPA warning was that it would be slightly higher than the last big flood. But it came up much higher than before.”

Rab and others in the shop managed to get out at around 3 pm on Friday when water started to lap the door.

He was disappointed at the council’s response.

He added: “I would like to see all of the elected councillors resign and get a new team in that will actually get things done.”

Rab says he had an idea for a flood defence at the Whitesands way back in 1977 but his suggestion was waved away at the time and he was told not to worry.

He said: “They need to dredge it all the way from the Caul to Glencaple. Any flood prevention is welcome.”

‘We can’t continue on like this’

KIMMIE Woodhouse from The Worlds End Pub will not find out the full cost of the damage done until after everything has been fixed.

Since last Friday she has been working tirelessly with her team to clean up and get back to business.

Kimmie said: “I’m still trying to get machines fixed. I don’t know how much it’s going to cost me.

“I was open on New Year’s Day. We were in here constantly trying to get it cleaned because we had already lost Hogmanay.”

She added: “I’ve worked here for seven years and that’s the worst I’ve ever seen it, even before I had the pub myself.

“I phoned Environmental Health because any of Tennent’s equipment that is damaged in a flood they will not attend to fix because they need a certificate to say that it’s alright to touch.”

She added: “It just keeps happening. I think something will be done pretty quickly about the wall that’s down, but we’re just kind of left.

“(The council) could at least walk around and see if everybody is alright.

“I phoned them up for sandbags and they said they dropped some off round the back, but nobody knew about them.

“They told me to go to the depot and pick them up myself. Luckily I didn’t go because there wasn’t any anyway.”

In the aftermath of the flood, affected businesses held meetings this week to discuss what they require for future flooding events and any possible compensation.

Kimmie added: “At the two meetings a man from the council has been there.

“We asked them – are they planning to give us any funds? – The council said that there is no money for anybody.

“I think the river should be dredged. At the meeting someone asked – Why can’t it be dredged? – They said something about the animals living in the river which I understand. But what about us?

“Something needs done. Dredging will lower it so it’s not as bad.

“We can’t continue on like this. Something needs done, fast.”

Council – ‘Scale of flooding was unprecedented’

DUMFRIES and Galloway Council released a statement about last week’s devastating floods.

A spokesman said: “Since December 29, Dumfries and Galloway Council has been working closely with partner agencies to help mitigate the impact of the severe flooding that has affected householders and businesses across Dumfries and Galloway.

“As part of the response to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) issue of the Severe Flood Warning for the Whitesands, the PARD (Persons at Risk Database) was accessed, and checks were undertaken to confirm the safety of more than 250 vulnerable people within the flood area of the river Nith.

“A rest centre was established at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s The Bridge on 30 December, and the small number of people who attended were ultimately accommodated in local hotels.

“The facility remained open should there have been further demand, but generally those residents of residential properties impacted made arrangements to stay with friends or relatives.

“During and immediately after the flooding, we inspected roads and bridges and reopened them as flood water receded.

“At the peak of the floods, Dumfries and Galloway Council had to close more than 60 roads across the region. Most have been reopened.

“Fewer than five roads remain closed because of continued standing water, or due to the need to carry out repairs.

“To help business-owners and householders, our council provided skips in Whitesands, Kirkton and Moniaive on December 31. The skips have now been replaced at Whitesands and Kirkton.

“Our bulky uplift teams have been undertaking clearance works at Whitesands and locations remote from skips and will continue to do so. Anyone who has been flooded can request a bulky uplift free-ofcharge. Just call 030 33 33 3000.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council officers have engaged with Wheatley Group over property flooding at Kirkton and provided a skip for their use. Officers from the council’s Strategic Housing department will engage with the Registered Social Landlords to support them in recovering from the flooding.

“Throughout the flooding, along with our partners, we issued regular communications through social media channels so that residents and businesses were prepared as far as they could be, and could take appropriate action.

“The council has contacted the Scottish Flood Forum, which is there to support flood-hit communities not only in recovery but also in resilience. They can be reached at

“We continue to work closely with partner agencies to help affected citizens and businesses to recover from this flood. The scale of the flooding was unprecedented in some parts of the region.

“The Nith catchment took the brunt of the heavy rainfall, with flooding experienced from Kirkconnel though to Kingholm Quay, with communities at Auldgirth, Moniaive, Penpont, Kirkton, and Dumfries including Nunholm, Sandside and Whitesands flooded.

“Initial feedback from SEPA was that the flooding on the Nith through Dumfries was the highest on record, with a recording of 1,170 cumecs at the Greensands. A cumec is a cubic metre (1 tonne) of water per second.”

Rescue teams help in flood response

THE team leader from Moffat Mountain Rescue Team has described how rescue squads helped those affected by severe weather across Dumfries and Galloway last week.

MMRT Team leader James Coles said: “We got called at about midday on Friday and then we were busy until 1 am the next morning. There were eight from our team, seven from Galloway Mountain Rescue and six from Police Scotland Mountain Rescue.”

Even after 27 years in the rescue team, two of them as team leader, this is the worst flooding that James has ever witnessed in the Dumfries area.

He said: “Our vehicle was operating as far afield as Moniaive.

“We were then drawn in towards Dumfries as the day went on.”

It started to become clear that the Nith was going to rise to a level higher than first thought. The village of Kirkton was badly hit by flood water. James added: “It was completely cut off. The community did most of the work themselves. It was more about going to check that everyone was okay.

“In the evening we were focused on Nunholm and Goldie Crescent in Dumfries.”

The rescue team deployed an additional vehicle and team members to Dumfries where they worked with Galloway Mountain Rescue Team’s swift water responders, Nith Inshore Rescue and HM Coastguard to respond to flooding incidents at Nunholm, Irongray and Sandside. James and the team worked non stop for around 13 hours before standing down in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also told of how just under 30 people needed to be evacuated. Group Commander for Dumfries and Galloway, Scott Irving said: “We were alerted to multiple reports of weather-related flooding affecting residential and commercial properties across Dumfries on Friday.

“During the extended period of flooding, we took a systematic approach to dealing with the number of rescues that crews carried out.

“Around 27 people were evacuated from properties and businesses, who required our assistance to be moved to a place of safety.”



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