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Extra government funding announced for flood-hit Scottish councils

Homes and travel routes are still feeling the impact of the wettest December on record.

Flooding: Damage to Ballater 'incomprehensible'.
Flooding: Damage to Ballater 'incomprehensible'. @nannynick

More funding is to be made available for Scottish councils hardest hit by flooding as communities count the cost of the severe weather.

Flood waters are receding and the clean-up has begun in many areas but homes and travel routes are still feeling the impact of the wettest December on record.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said the damage inflicted on the Aberdeenshire town of Ballater in particular was "incomprehensible", and paid tribute to local firefighters who helped others while their own homes were being flooded.

Support of almost £4m was announced in December's draft Budget for local authorities affected most by Storm Desmond, including the Scottish Borders, Perth and Kinross and Dumfries and Galloway.

Mr Swinney told Holyrood on Tuesday the allocation would be extended in light of the devastation wreaked by Storm Frank last week and ongoing flooding in areas including Aberdeenshire and Perth.

The funding is aimed at assisting home owners and businesses, and regenerating areas affected by the weather.

Mr Swinney insisted councils had enough funding to provide for all of the flood prevention schemes identified for the next five years after Labour called for a review.

Cabinet secretary for the environment Richard Lochhead thanked all those who assisted in communities hit by flooding following visits to Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Brechin in Angus and Perth.

Mr Lochhead said: "What struck me on my visits was the amazing sense of community spirit - people have been flooded out of their homes, but everyone continues to rally around and help one another.

"This has been an extremely difficult time for people who have been affected and our thoughts continue to be with these communities."

A Met Office yellow warning for rain is in place in Aberdeenshire throughout Wednesday and Thursday but the local council said river levels have peaked and are slowly falling. Many people are still staying in alternative accommodation in Ballater and Aboyne.

Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege said: "We've had positive discussions with the Scottish Government over access to funding to help us progress repairs, and we will be having ongoing conversations about how we can help minimise flood risk in a number of communities in the future."

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) chief officer Alasdair Hay praised crews, volunteers and communities for their response to devastation caused by Storm Frank. SFRS received 350 flooding-related calls from Wednesday December 30 to Tuesday.

Mr 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 been, and continue to be, extraordinary."

In Ballater the fire station itself flooded, and Mr Hay said it was only after helping members of the community that crews returned to their own homes which were also badly affected.

Many road closures are still in place across Scotland and west coast rail travel between Scotland and England will be disrupted until the end of the month as work continues to repair the Lamington Viaduct near Lockerbie.

Efforts are continuing to make the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful safe for travel, with specialist teams preparing to blast a 150-tonne boulder sitting around 175m above the carriageway on the route prone to landslips.

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