More than 600 homes in Hawick have been evacuated this morning as the town prepares to deal with serious flooding. With the River Teviot riseing fast and more rain forecast to fall, residents are bracing themselves for flooding predicted to be worse than the 2005 event in the town.
As Storm Desmond sweeps across the country, the Borders is on high alert this weekend.
Due to the forecast of a serious flooding incident in Hawick, police led a phased evacuation of properties in the Mansfield area of the town in the early hours of this morning.
Residents in other areas of Hawick including Duke Street, Teviot Crescent, Buccleuch Street, Sandbed and the Haugh were told to prepare to evacuate their houses and move their vehicles to higher ground.
Businesses were advised to prepare for the worst. The A698 Hawick to Jedburgh road closed this morning due to flooding.
The situation is likely to get worse during the day and residents may not have much time to prepare when the waters rise.
The Teviotdale Leisure Centre has been opened as a rest centre and residents have been directed there.
This followed SEPA forecasting which predicted that of the the River Teviot would peak at more than 3.6m, higher than the 2005 flooding event in the town. With further rain forecast throughout Saturday, the river level will remain high.
Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue and Scottish Borders Council staff are on the ground in the town and are being assisted by Hawick Flood Group volunteers, British Red Cross and Salvation Army staff.
Borders MSP John Lamont said: “My thoughts go out to residents and businesses in Hawick and elsewhere in the Borders who have been affected by this terrible weather. Since arriving in Hawick in the early hours of Saturday morning I have seen first hand the hard work of volunteers and officials to support residents who have been evacuated. The response has been fantastic and a credit to Hawick.
“It now looks likely that this will be the worst flooding in Hawick for many years and for this extent of damage to happen so close to Christmas is heartbreaking. Clearly the focus remains on helping those who are in difficulty and minimising damage to property.”
Scottish Borders Council has been closely monitoring the situation in Peebles, Newcastleton, Galashiels and Jedburgh, where river levels are high and rising.
A total of 16 flood warnings are in place across the Scottish Borders.