Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer Alasdair Hay today praised his staff, partner agencies, volunteers and communities right across Scotland  for the way they have responded to devastation caused by Storm Frank, But he forgot to mention Dumfries and Galloway once, causing upset among local rescue teams and volunteers who have had to face storm devastation twice in December in  our region.

In his press release today Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer Alasdair Hay Stated :-

Many communities across Scotland have been hit by devastating floods which have forced people out of their homes during the festive season, with some areas still affected at the present time.

Crews have been working flat out for over a week to ensure people’s continued safety and that fire and rescue cover is maintained during extraordinary and extremely challenging circumstances.

The national service has provided enhanced resilience during the winter storm period, with resources from across Scotland available to support one another. One such example saw crews from Dundee support their colleagues in Ballater, Aberdeenshire, which was amongst one of the worst hit areas in terms of flooding.

Firefighters attended a host of other flooding related incidents across the north over the festive season. In total SFRS received 350 flooding related calls from Wednesday 30 December 2015 up until today (5 January 2016).

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay, said: “Storm Frank has brought misery to many of our communities over the past few days.

“It is impossible to find any words to describe how those affected must be feeling. They have seen their homes and businesses destroyed by flooding but are showing incredible resilience in the face of adversity.

“Alongside our communities many agencies and volunteers have worked tirelessly to help and support those affected. I want to pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard to support their communities.

“However, I want to pay particular tribute to all our SFRS staff right across the country as their efforts have, and continue to be extraordinary.”

The north east and Tayside areas were particularly badly affected by flooding since 30 December and crews have been working around the clock to provide assistance to people across the north service delivery area.

In addition to flooding incidents crews were also faced with a number of other incidents including two significant fires during the festive period.

Aberdeen operations centre began to receive calls on Wednesday 30 December relating to flooding in the Ballater area. Multiple incidents were attended throughout the Aberdeenshire area. Dundee operations centre also attended several flooding related incidents.

This continued throughout the next 24 hrs with significant flooding affecting the Deeside area in particular. Ballater fire station suffered extensive damage from flooding and was no longer functional.

Ballater crews were initially helping flood victims before the station flooded, ruined their fire gear and cut off communication. Only after assisting members of their community did they return to their own homes which were also badly affected by flooding. Their resolve was underlined today when the Ballater appliance returned to active duty.

The A93 was partially washed away resulting in Braemar station being isolated during the busy Hogmanay period. A standby pump from the Blackness Road Station in Dundee was mobilised to provide additional cover as there was no access from the Aberdeenshire area.

During this initial stage of the flooding Local Resilience Partnerships and SGoRR (Scottish Government’s Resilience Room) and Gold Command were established to co-ordinate the response and relief effort. A period of stability followed through from the morning of the 31st to the 1st where arrangements were put in place to support the communities affected and begin the recovery process.

On December 30 a local authority sheltered housing complex in Aberdeen’s Bridge of Dee was badly affected by flooding. The first appliances in attendance rescued three elderly women from basement level flats just before the windows and doors smashed in with the force of the river flood water. Forty residents were evacuated to a nearby hotel.

On 4 January 2016 four appliances were mobilised to a flooding incident at Bonty Court, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. Fire crews used two major pumps to pump away large amounts of flood water and assisted with the evacuation of 24 residents from Allachburn care home to Aboyne Community Hospital. Crews were at incident and continuing to pump water until midnight.

Also on 4 January crews responded to flooding at a farm at Bridgehaugh, Coupar Angus. SFRS crews assisted in the removal of occupants and dogs from the flooded area and working in partnership with HM Coastguard evacuated them via helicopter.

Crews also dealt with two major fires during the festive period. The first happened on New Year’s Day at Kinellar School, Blackburn, near Aberdeen. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The following day firefighters dealt with a blaze at Alastrean House, Tarland, Aboyne. Nine appliances battled the fire at the care home for the elderly. Several bedrooms were smoke logged. Crews were faced with a well-developed fire in the building (100m x 100m). The fire was located in ground and first floors. Forty-two residents were evacuated by staff and re-homed in an unaffected wing of the property.

Meanwhile in the West Service Delivery area crews responded to flooding at New Cumnock, East Ayrshire on Wednesday 30 December.

Firefighters from New Cumnock, Mauchline, Cumnock and Newlins were sent to the scene as a large body of flood water threatened homes in different parts of the village.

Firefighters rescued residents from affected homes and ensured people with medical or social care needs received additional support.

Up to 120 properties were involved in the incident and SFRS teams worked throughout the day to keep people safe and mitigate damage caused by floodwater from the rivers Nith and Afton, deploying around 1,600 sandbags to protect homes.

During the course of the incident firefighters responded to several medical emergencies and also provided assistance to a pregnant woman.

Firefighters also responded to a number of incidents as heavy rain struck various areas in the East Service Delivery Area over the festive period.

The East area, particularly Peebles and the Borders have been devastated by flooding since 26 December last year and crews have been working around the clock to provide assistance to people across these areas.

One of the most serious of these occurred in Aberfoyle around midday on 30 December when the town’s Main Street was completely flooded following a rapid rise in water levels, leaving several people stranded in shops or trapped within their homes.

The local crew from Aberfoyle community fire station were the first emergency responders on the scene, closely followed by their colleagues from Balfron fire station. Faced with a rapidly developing situation, the incident commander requested additional resources, and water rescue teams were immediately mobilised from Stirling and Glasgow with rescue boats and other life-saving equipment. The boats were used to very good effect, removing those people who required assistance to a place of safety, with many taking shelter in the fire station itself until the waters receded some hours later.

Elsewhere in the Stirlingshire area, firefighters rescued a family from their vehicle after they became trapped by flood water at a caravan park in Strathyre, and other crews were involved in pumping flood water from property in Killin.

In Fife, people were rescued from cars after flooding hit various locations. Two fire crews from Methil and three water rescue crews from Glenrothes rescued four adults, four children and a dog from two vehicles trapped in water 3ft deep on the A917 near Colinsburgh on 26 December. Later that night crews were called to assist two women, one elderly, when their car became stuck on the B936 at Grange of Lindores, near Newburgh.

Three people had to be rescued from a Borders river on Boxing Day as flooding returned to the region and a further three had to be rescued after their car became trapped by another Tweed tributary which had burst its banks.

A woman fell into the Lyne Water near Romanno Bridge in Peeblesshire and two men who attempted to rescue her also became trapped in the rapidly rising river. All three were swept downstream around 200 metres before they were eventually rescued. Fire crews from West Linton and Peebles had to work in dreadful conditions and were backed up by specialist water rescue teams from Galashiels and Edinburgh.

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