Hawick Provost and Flood Group chairman Stuart Marshall says the “indomitable Teri spirit” played a huge part in how the town coped with the floods which engulfed the town last weekend.
Without the “tireless and brave efforts” of his 12-man volunteer flood group, the first class resources supplied by the council and presence of the police, things would have “without doubt” been a lot worse, he told the Hawick News.
Mr Marshall said: “From the moment we became aware that a potential situation was developing everyone did exactly what they have been trained to do.
“This town will never be able to thank these volunteers enough. It was a huge and inspiring effort over two days and I am convinced beyond doubt that if it had not been for a swift and decisive response things would have been much, much worse.”
By daybreak on Saturday morning it was evident that a serious situation was developing and indeed Provost Marshall revealed that he had been called to the police station through the night and was told to prepare for floods on the same scale or worse than 2005 and that plans were being put in place to evacuate residents of Mansfield Road.
By 10am more than 40 householders were being cared for in Teviotdale Leisure Centre by Scottish Borders Council social services staff.
At this point many within the town feared that water levels would exceed those of 2005.
Mr Marshall recalled: “We were told at this point that the river level would peak around 4pm but this was eventually moved to 8pm with rain expected to continue falling until around first light on Sunday morning.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Scottish Borders Council and in particular the guys who were on the ground and who dealt with the worsening situation brilliantly. They have also been at the forefront of the clean up since the waters fell back.”
Mr Marshall has nothing but glowing praise for townsfolk and local businesses who offered help, food and accommodation, adding: “I was totally overwhelmed at the spirit shown by Teries at the weekend.
“Their generosity was second-to-none and if ever you needed an example of a community coming together in the face of adversity this is it.
“I will never be able to list and thank folk individually but I can assure each and every one of them that they made the difference this weekend. They were on hand to help their fellow Teries when those affected were in a pretty dark place and I am thankful for that.
“Amid all the destruction and devastation of the weekend I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever felt prouder to call myself a Hawick man and to list those who played a part as friends and colleagues.”
Local MSP John Lamont, who was in Hawick for most of Saturday and returned to see the devastation first hand on Sunday, joined Provost Marshall praising the efforts of everyone involved over the weekend.
Mr Lamont said: “The reaction by the residents of Hawick over the weekend was nothing short of extraordinary. From the early hours of Saturday morning, it seemed as if the whole town understood the scale of what was happening and immediately sprang into action.
“All those involved, including the Hawick Flood Group, Salvation Army, emergency services, volunteers and council workers were there round the clock over the weekend to stuff sandbags, help with evacuations and provide bedding, clothing, food and drink to those affected.
“This response won’t come as a surprise to all who know Hawick, it was indicative of the community spirit of Teries. And it was because of all this hard work that everyone was kept safe and there were no injuries.”
The town’s SNP politicians praised the work of the flood team and emergency services right across the Borders as the storm and waters reached their height.
Calum Kerr MP said: “The work they did really was amazing and we should all be grateful to them for their efforts. The way in which communities came together was also incredible and everyone should take pride in that.”
On her visit to the town this week, Scottish Government environment minister Aileen McLeod said: “I would like to thank our emergency responders who have been working round the clock to help those most in need. I also want to pay tribute to the many volunteers who by offering food, transport and support to their neighbours showed a community spirit everyone can be proud of.
Community spirit was also praised by local rugby legend, Jim Renwick, whose Buccleuch Street home had its basement flooded for about the fifth time in the 30 years he’s lived there.
“We’d just come back from a game at Berwick and when you saw the height of the river it was scary stuff,” said the former Scotland and British Lions international. “The other side of the coin is, while things were bad, it also showed the great community spirit that exists in this town when there’s trouble.”