'It's sad it's ended up like this': How a devastated community is rebuilding after Storm Babet

Storm Babet broke new records for rainfall in Brechin - and long after it subsided, residents are still paying the cost. ITV News' Scotland reporter Louise Scott spoke to those impacted

The debris strewn across Brechin’s street is the aftermath of Storm Babet moving in. 

Six weeks have passed since devastating flood waters took over the Scottish east coast town, taking decades of memories with it in just a few hours.

October 19 was the wettest day the Angus area had experienced since records began. It led to the South Esk river bursting its banks and the local flood defence becoming overwhelmed.

At the time we spoke to Scott McNeil, the owner of the Bridgend bar which sits on the corner of River Street.

Mud covered the floors of his business and destroyed much of the equipment after three feet of water swept in.

Mud covered the floor of Scott's bar after three feet of water swept in. Credit: ITV News

We revisited Scott this week as he prepares to reopen the restaurant, he described the flooding as a bit of blur and surreal looking back on it.

Throughout the repairs process Scott has also been undergoing gruelling cancer treatment, but he says the flooding has kept his mind off of his health.

He said: "We got the bar up and running within a week and then we basically sat and waited.

"We've painted everything, done everything we can and sat and waited to find out if we had insurance or not.

"Six weeks in we still don't have an answer to that. So we had to make the decision that we're opening now on Friday."

Scott estimates the cost of repairs so far to be between £20-£25k, but he expects that to go up. They do not know whether insurance will cover the bill.

'Probably up to date we've spent £20-25,000,' Scott tells ITV News

Insurance is a big talking point in this town. Many homes and businesses weren't covered for floods due to previous incidents. Those that have are seeing the cost of their cover skyrocketing.

One business still evaluating it's future is the East Mill Road caravan park.

The homes here were submerged during Storm Babet and none have been salvageable. They are now being broken down for scrap and belongings removed.

Linda Mcrobbie and her partner lived seven months of the year in what they describe as their haven. We met them as they were removing the items which for fifteen years had made it their home.

Through tears, Linda said: "It's just so sad, but we've got good memories, so that's the main thing. It's just sad to see that it's ended up like this, we just loved it."

The owner of the site, Scott Murray, has seen decades of hard work swept away.

I asked Scott what the future for the sit looks like, he said: "Some of them will not be back, some of them want to come back but it's whether I've got anything for them to come back to.

"It's going to take a wee while anyway. We'll not be taking anything in the door for the next three, four months and what will be will be miniscule from what we were doing before."

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf pictured visiting the Brechin homes affected by Storm Babet. Credit: PA

How viable will that be? Scott says they'll just need to wait and see.

Businesses are eligible for a £3000 Scottish Government grant, but with so much devastation, how far will that go?

At the local community centre, the Crickety, there’s a warm space for anyone who needs it.

Everybody here knows someone who has been affected and there is a collective effort to help those in need.

Barbara Lindsay is currently living with family after her home flooded, but the ordeal is taking it’s toll.

Barbara said: "In all honesty I never dreamt it would happen to me. To begin with it was alright, but then this past couple of weeks I've been thinking about things that I have lost.

"My daughter cried when she seen the mess of the house. I've been down once and it was so hard, so so hard."

'I never dreamt it would happen to me,' Barbara said

Barbara tells us she can't face going back until the renovations are underway.

The Scottish Government scheme will grant household’s affected £1500, but there’s growing anger that more should be done.

Grant Hutchison is the club’s community development manager, he said: "If I'm being honest, we've had a lot of visitors from Government ministers who've promised a lot, but as of yet nothing.

"I think £1500 for a person's life possessions is small. When you add up the number of households that will be benefit and how much they will benefit by, it's a paltry sum."

The head of the SNP run Angus Council defended authorities actions in the aftermath.

Beth Whiteside said: "Obviously we would like to see assistance coming through very quickly, but we have to be realistic and we have to properly evaluate where the help is required, what help is required."

We walked through the worst affected streets with Beth and a local councillor. They told me they understand local's concerns around the speed of progress but, say the scale of the devastation has made it extremely challenging.

I asked whether the houses will be habitable again, Beth said: "It's difficult to say with any certainty at this point in time and the fact that people might not want to come back to live in properties where they've suffered such trauma."

How to defend the town from future flooding is also high on the authority's priority list. The flood defence wall was built to sustain 3.8 metres above normal river levels - Storm Babet brought five metres of water.

Simply increasing the height of the wall isn’t likely to be enough to prevent future flooding.

Life is continuing in Brechin, but not without struggle. There’s the underlying fear that they could be hit again.

Scott O'Neil from the Bridgend Bar said: "You spend all of this money, and many businesses out with ours have spent a lot more than we have, and it could happen again next week, you've just no idea.

"That's very concerning, it's going to come to a point where say, 'Well, we can't do this anymore.'"

This is a town still reeling from the aftermaths of devastation. For many, the recovery has barely begun.

Christmas won’t be the same for those out of their homes, but the community is trying to ensure some semblance of normality shines through.

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