BY LISA FALCONER
The community response to flash flooding which hit the Ullapool area last week, causing severe damage to properties, has been “amazing”, one of the residents affected has said.
Lucy Beattie of Leckmelm Farm lost animals, crops, machinery and business property last Monday when heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks. Over 20 people, including tourists staying in holiday homes at the farm, were trapped by the water which swept across the area bringing rocks and trees in its wake and causing sinkholes to appear.
She said: “We are getting there slowly and surely. We have had so much help from people in Ullapool —something like 40 people turned up last Friday alone. For instance we were able to get almost 400 fleeces unwrapped and dried out, as well as clearing debris.
“People have just been amazing, giving hours and hours of their time. My neighbour Andy’s house was really badly flooded and 10 people were there clearing silt and getting things dried out, others have brought food. A holidaymaker from Glasgow who was staying in a cottage on the farm said he was stunned by the goodwill of the community.”
She added: “Now I just hope the public agencies can match the community effort.”
Following the flooding, Lucy estimated around £80,000 of damage had been caused. But having had a chance to investigate properly she now believes “hundreds of thousands of pounds” worth of damage has been caused. Included in this is the need to lift the floors of four holiday cottages.
Ms Beattie is certain the damage could have been avoided if culverts on the main A835 road – which was closed by the flooding – had been cleared and maintained. But ideally she would like to see a bridge built to replace the culverts, which replaced the original bridge when the new road was built in 1973.
She added that her neighbours at Corrie Lodge were in a similar situation and were also very concerned that the culverts were not being maintained.
Workers from Bear Scotland came on Monday of this week and did some clearing of the culverts, in addition to the emergency clearing done on the day of the flooding. Ms Beattie also praised Paul Hendy of the Scottish Flood Forum, who she said had been “incredibly helpful” and removed a lot of stress.
While Ms Beattie has had no response to a letter to Transport Minister Keith Brown, calling for action, she said there had been a good response from Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson.
Mr Gibson said: “I have urged the transport minister Keith Brown to intervene and conduct an urgent review leading to speedy remediation. Road users and local properties are at risk in these climate change enhanced severe weather events.”