I spent the weekend in Hawick, having arrived around 4.30am on Saturday after hearing about the worsening conditions, having been phoned around 3:00am by Hawick Flood Group member and coordinator for Sandbed, Ryan McGee.
When I arrived I and local MP Calum Kerr were very much heartened by the response to events that was evident by the overwhelming hard work of the community of volunteers, especially from the Hawick Flood Group. The volunteers sheer determination to overcome a potential calamity facing the whole town was exemplary and their work was well coordinated and very professional.
I knew that Scottish Borders Council had an excellent resilience team in place, led by Jim Fraser, and I have seen first-hand their response across the region as being very much a first class plan which others would do well to learn from.
However, I must praise all agencies involved in the operation of keeping people in Hawick and the surrounding areas, including Denholm and Newcastleton, informed and safe and I understand that similar operations worked well in Selkirk, Coldstream and the Kelso area.
Everyone from Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Service, Borders Search and Rescue Unit, the Salvation Army and the social work staff, Borders Sport and Leisure Trust and volunteers at the rest centre established at the Teviot Leisure Centre and the Hawick Flood Group really came into their own this weekend – they have all been an absolute credit, not only to Hawick, but also to the Borders and to Scotland.
The volunteers absolutely deserve to be recognised for putting themselves in extremely dangerous situations in order to ensure the safety of their fellow townsfolk and I am extremely proud of them all. I may have helped fill sandbags, and check some properties, but the effort these guys put in was herculean.
The fact that a facebook page for people to offer help with the relief effort was set up before the river had even reached its peak is testimony to the community spirit of Hawick that makes me appreciate the town so much as a home from home and I am sure that community spirit will not only be of great comfort to those who may need assistance with clearing up their homes and businesses once it is safe to do so, but will ensure that we see Hawick and other Borders communities rebound from most recent event.
While my own office has been flooded, the impact was much lessened because for the speedy response of the Hawick Flood Group and we were open for my parliamentary surgery today.
My team are still working and we remain fully contactable, so if anyone requires my assistance with anything during this difficult time please don’t hesitate to contact me, as you are most definitely not alone in a community that comes together so magnificently at a time of crisis and I hope and believe that the amazing community spirit displayed can now be applied to support the wider needs of our communities.