Actions taken since Storm Frank a year ago

Aberdeen City Council has been working on several projects to help communities around the city since the devastation caused by Storm Frank on 29 and 30 December last year and the flooding on 8 and 9 January this year.

December 2015 and January 2016 saw Scotland experience some of the most severe flooding in recent memory as a series of storms passed over Scotland bringing sustained and persistent rainfall, by a series of storms influenced by the pattern of the Jet Stream.

Storm Frank brought high intensity rainfall over a 24hr period falling on already saturated catchments which resulted in flooding impacts in many parts of Scotland.

More than 100mm of rainfall was recorded over this period in the Upper Dee catchment, and SEPA recorded (by a large margin) the highest water levels in 40 years at many local river stations.

Locally, record water levels were seen on the Dee (estimated to be the highest level over the 87 year period of records) and Don (highest level over the 45 year period of records).

In summary, there was significant flooding throughout Aberdeenshire and on 30 December and 7 January within Aberdeen. Further potential significant flooding from the River Don in the Grandholm area of the Bridge of Don was expected on the 7th January. Thankfully this did not materialise although a number of significant actions were taken to mitigate the potential life threatening effects.

Over the period, City Council staff from several services were involved at the time of the event or the clean-up afterwards. Roads and Infrastructure staff were heavily committed throughout, dealing with roads, bridge and other infrastructure issues, supporting the emergency services and members of the public.

Housing and Social Care staff supported evacuees, particularly from sheltered housing near the Bridge of Dee and from care homes in the Persley area.

Hundreds of residents suffered too, particularly in Peterculter after the Culter Burn burst its banks, and other areas affected by flooding or debris included Seaton Park, Aberdeen beach, Westburn Park, Glashieburn, Stronsay and Jack’s Brae.

In the weeks following Storm Frank and the January flooding, individuals, friends, families and organised groups picked, lifted, dragged, swept and bagged debris and detritus from Seaton Park and the beach.

They included kayakers who helped tidy up Seaton Park on 15 January after the park was badly affected by flooding and debris when the River Don burst it banks. The flooding in the formal part of the park was about shoulder-high in places.

Friends of Seaton Park and Muslim Society get stuck in on 24 January and helped to clean up more of the park. Aberdeen City Council uplifted and cleared all that was collected.

The Muslim Society of Aberdeen organised and took part in a clear-up of the beach on 16 January. On Facebook, one woman announced her intention to clean up the beach and within weeks, her page was shared 2,500 times - 500 people turned up to help her on the 30 January. Again, Aberdeen City Council provided staff, vehicles and equipment to support the efforts of the volunteers.

Hundreds of homes were saved when Westburn Park, Glashieburn, and Stronsay areas flooded as they have been designed to do, to act as containment pools for extra water from burns and sewers.

Flood prevention schemes already in place before Storm Frank and the January flooding included:

  • Westburn Park Detention Pond – protects Fraser Place etc
  • Glashieburn Scheme – protects Lochside Drive
  • Stronsay Detention Pond – protects Fountainhall, Queens Cross and Mackie Place

Since Storm Frank and the January flooding, Aberdeen City Council has instigated several changes around the city.

These include repairs to damage to a road at the Bridge of Don, design studies for a flood prevention scheme at Peterculter (Millside and Paddock), installation of a storm bypass at Leggart Terrace, installation of the wetlands at Seaton Park, and flooding prevention work at Watson Street/Cornhill areas.

In addition, Aberdeen City Council administered a £1,500 flooding grant to residents who met the criteria which was designed to help with costs to buy equipment such as flood doors for their properties.

The priorities include a collaborative project with Scottish Water to prevent city centre sewer flooding in the Merchant Quarter. Flood doors to prevent river flooding to residential home at Deeview Court, measures in place for the area near Bon Accord Glass on Riverside Drive, and a River Don early warning system to alert Grandholm Village etc.

The total cost of implementing these city-wide schemes will run to tens of millions of pounds with implementation phased over a number of years.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Storm Frank and the January flooding were devastating for many parts of the north-east and for residents and communities in Aberdeen.

“Although they were both regarded as extremely unusual events, we cannot be complacent about flooding on this scale not happening again which is why the measures were taken afterwards and will continue over the next few years.

“We hope that nothing on this scale ever happens again as we know how terrible the impact is on people to have their houses or businesses affected by flooding.

“The response by our own staff working alongside emergency services at the time was amazing, and their hard work during what were challenging circumstances, and also for work which has been carried out and will continue on flood prevention schemes around the city.

“I’d also like to thank the community groups and individuals who played such a big part in cleaning up the debris afterwards as their efforts were tremendous.”