Return to River Street: Brechin flooding one month on

It is a month since Brechin's River Street bore the brunt of Storm Babet when the South Esk burst its banks, inundating dozens of properties.

BBC Scotland News returned to the street as its residents come to terms with the aftermath of the devastating flood.

Jasmine Willox, Euan Clark and Kim Clark are among those living in temporary accommodation with questions about the future of their homes.

'How long will we have to live like this?'

Jasmine Willox, her partner Lauren, and baby daughter Avanna-Rose face a bleak Christmas in temporary accommodation after their home was flooded.

"We've had to adapt from being in a house to a tiny little flat," she said. "The storage heating is next-level extortionate.

"I'm double, if not triple, the amount of gas and electric in that flat than I am here.

"We've been left in the dark, we don't know anything. We don't know when we're going to get back in."

River Street home damage
The majority of Jasmine's possessions were damaged or destroyed in the flood

She managed to salvage a few possessions, but most were destroyed.

"Everything is covered and not just mud," she said. "A lot of folks think it's mud, but that's actually sewage.

"It's not just your big things like your sofa or TV that you miss, it's little things. All my little girl's arts and crafts are all ruined."

Jasmine, a council tenant, initially slept on family and friends' sofas before moving into temporary accommodation in nearby Montrose.

"You're not allowed to decorate," she said. "It's not homely because you can't do what you want to it.

"It takes a toll on you, you start to feel a little depressed and down in the dumps and it's hard to pick yourself up when you're that low.

"Some days I can't be bothered getting out of my bed, because I don't like where I live."

Jasmine had stored the family's "Christmas stuff" in her garden shed.

"It's all gone, it's all ruined," she said.

"Christmas is a few weeks down the line and I'm not in the mood for it at all. I've got a little girl and I've got to think about how Santa is coming to see her.

"We've got to start from scratch again, but we'll get there for her sake, I guess."

Jasmine said the uncertainty of her situation was taking its toll.

She said: "We need to know what we're doing, so we can start planning. How long will we have to live like this? It's not physically good and it's not mentally good.

"It's not somewhere you want to bring a family up, that's for sure, you feel trapped."

'I doubt I'll ever be back'

Euan Clark
Euan Clark does not know where he will be staying after 20 November

Euan Clark looks around what used to be his home in River Street.

Mud and sewage cover every surface, carpets are ruined, the devastation wrought by last month's flooding is still plain to see.

"I doubt I'll ever come back," he said. "Honestly I don't think these buildings will be here, I think they'll knock them down."

Euan has been living in a guest house in Montrose, following a spell at his mum's and even sleeping in the back of his van.

He is at the guest house until 20 November with about 10 other displaced residents, but does not know where he will be staying after that date.

"I've been told to look for private housing, but people can't afford that.," he said. "You need a deposit or a first month's rent upfront.

"I'm basically at the bottom of the list. I live on my own and I've got a dog, which I think goes against you."

River Street home damage
Euan had to clear out all his furniture following the flooding last month

The house was previously occupied by Euan's grandmother who passed it on to Euan's dad.

Euan said: "We won't be getting back into these houses any time soon, and a lot of people don't want to come back here.

"It's my dad I feel sorry for. He tried to get insurance for here, but he just can't afford what they were asking for.

"I can't really start rebuilding my life until I know what's happening."

Euan only learned that his home had been flooded when he was woken by a call from his father at about 04:00 to tell him the street was under water.

When he opened the front door the water "just wiped me clean off my feet", he said.

Euan fled the house with just a pair of shorts and his dog Sasha.

"I've lost everything," he said. "Will anything be done? Time will tell.

"We had a meeting that revealed pretty much nothing. There was no mention of what's happening with the houses or businesses.

"Everybody's just in the dark, to be honest with you. Brechin just gets forgotten about."

'Substantial financial aid'

Humza Yousaf in Brechin
First Minister Humza Yousaf visited the scene of the flooding last month

Brechin and Edzell Independent councillor Jill Scott told BBC Good Morning Scotland she was concerned about the psychological impact of the flooding.

She said: "The trauma people have been through being displaced from their homes and their belongings ruined.

"The community has been amazing and continues to be."

Cllr Scott said 57 council properties were affected.

She said: "Some want to go back to their properties and some don't, so the council is doing a matching exercise to get people into permanent (accommodation) if that's what they want, or temporary.

"I'm hoping to hear there's going to be substantial financial aid for Angus because we're going to need it, this is just too big for a local authority to deal with financially."

'We've been living on autopilot'

Kim Clark
Kim Clark's home has flooded four times in the 22 years she has lived there

Kim Clark said she had been luckier than some of her neighbours, as her insurance has paid for a rental property.

But it is the fourth time her River Street home has flooded in the 22 years she has lived here.

The latest flood was the final straw.

She said: "This is the end of my house, I'm not coming back sitting worrying if it's going to flood again.

"I hope the house gets condemned because it's starting to crack the foundations and things.

"It knocked everything off the walls, my furniture was floating, it was devastation. I'm trying to be strong for the family."

River Street home damage
River Street home damage

She said the trauma had brought the community together.

"We're stronger, but it's just a heartache for everybody," she added. "When you see all your belongings floating about, it's just not good at all.

Kim said the whole situation had been horrific.

She said: "We've been living on autopilot. I wake up in the morning and I'm like, 'I'm in temporary accommodation, I'm not at home'.

"I know it's not going to be done in an instant but it just seems that we're being given no help."

The Scottish government said its ministerial taskforce into Storm Babet, chaired by Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, would meet on Thursday morning.

A spokesman said: "As well as the immediate task of leading and co-ordinating Scottish government's support to local partners in this storm recovery, the taskforce will also look at lessons learned from the exceptional scale of recent weather events for future responses and consider how it may impact on future decisions."

For more on Scotland's climate, watch Scotland's Weather - Our Changing Seasons, at 20:00 on the BBC Scotland channel.

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