Flood Group on alert as river levels rise

HAWICK was only an hour from disaster on Tuesday after heavy rain caused both of the town’s rivers to rise rapidly.

That was the stark warning from Flood Group chairman Stuart Marshall, who has revealed that both the Teviot and Slitrig were rising several inches every hour as the town was battered with wind and rain.

And as the downpours continue, residents have been warned to be on their guard.

Members of the volunteer organisation – which has a well-rehearsed action plan that identifies those who may need help in the event of a deluge – were on high alert and remained in contact with Mr Marshall throughout Tuesday, with both the rivers were being constantly monitered using markers previously fitted by the group.

Revealing the extent of the threat which the town seemed to be under at 2pm, Mr Marshall stated: “The Slitrig was rising by 14 inches an hour at that point, and the Teviot by seven inches. That was what concerned me was that both the rivers were rising furiously at the same time. It was certainly getting a bit nerve-wracking as the day went on.”

He added: “Going by the volume of rainfall and the speed at which both rivers rose, it is fair to say that we probably were only an hour or so away from being called out.”

And despite the well-organised flood group being previously described by a national expert as one of the best in Britain, Mr Marshall admitted that if both rivers had continued to rise it would have proved a real test for the volunteers.

“Most of our shouts in the past have only been when the Teviot has given us cause for concern,” he stated. “But on Tuesday we were faced with both rivers in spate, and the last time that happened was when the town was badly affected back in 2005.”

The group was also in constant contact with a representative from the Scottish Enivornment Protection Agency (SEPA) who although on Tuesday issued a total of five flood warnings for the region, including the Yarrow and Ettrick Valley, had not allocated a flood alert status to either of Hawick’s rivers.

However, thankfully by around 5pm the level of the Teviot had finally peaked and the danger of flooding had abated.

n The fire station was flooded on Wednesday after this week’s heavy rain proved too much for the drains.

Station personnel found themselves fighting the elements for the second time this week – also being flooded on Sunday morning – after rain ran down the slope into the bay.

A spokesperson said: “The drains just can’t cope and rain runs down the hill into the pit, flooding the floor and our boots. We just pumped it out though.”