Emergency meeting ahead of rains

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An emergency meeting was chaired yesterday by Scottish Borders Council’s chief executive, Tracey Logan, to prepare for the impact of further heavy rain which is expected to hit the Borders from this evening.

A Met Office Amber (Be Prepared) weather warning for rain remains in place for Wednesday, December 30. Heavy and persistent rain is expected to start to affect the western Borders from around 8pm on Tuesday evening, slowly moving westwards overnight and through Wednesday. Winds of up to 60mph in exposed areas are also likely.

Rainfall of up to 50mm is expected widely across the western half of the region, but localised torrential downpours could result in up to 120mm in some locations.

As a result, the Council and partners are urging communities in the western Scottish Borders to prepare for the potentially significant rainfall and flooding.

The impact of this extended period of heavy rain could be at least similar to those of Storm Desmond earlier this month. The area of most concern at this time and based on the forecasts available is Peebles and the Upper Tweed.

In addition, and depending on the location of the heaviest rainfall, there is potential for impacts in Selkirk, Hawick and Newcastleton. The impact of the rainfall on all rivers is being closely monitored.

Sandbag stores across the region are full and around 20,000 empty bags held by the Council are being filled. Some of these will be made available for public self-help in areas most likely to be affected, however the remainder will be held by the Council and their use prioritised to protect property at greatest risk. Stocks at the stores will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Jim Fraser, Scottish Borders Council’s Emergency Planning Officer, said: “In addition to filling all sandbags, the Council is putting in place plans for resources and equipment to be available at key locations from Tuesday evening.

“To minimise the potential for flooding in vulnerable areas of Selkirk, we have been given permission from SEPA to release water stored in St Mary’s Loch over the next 24 hours to enable the greatest possible amount to be stored in the loch once the rain starts to fall on Tuesday evening. Staff from the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme will also be on the ground throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday to act if necessary, as they did successfully during Storm Desmond.”

The impact of sustained heavy rainfall, some of it torrential in places, and high winds, will make travel difficult on Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday.

Chief Inspector Andy McLean, Police Scotland’s Local Area Commander, said: “From Tuesday evening people should only travel if absolutely necessary, particularly in the western half of the Scottish Borders. Road conditions are likely to become very difficult due to flooding and standing water and there is a significant possibility that roads will need to be closed.

“Drivers should under no circumstances ignore road closed signs. This is an offence and can not only lead to people putting themselves in danger but also diverts important emergency services resources away from areas where they are most needed.”