Donations to Ballater flood fund are helping residents recover

Deeside flood
Deeside was one of the hardest hit areas of the country during the recent flooding. Photo by Shelley Mine.

The Ballater Flood Fund has received more than £9,000 in donations to help people affected by the severe flooding that left dozens of village residents homeless and destitute. Donations have come from across Scotland and the United Kingdom and from as far afield as Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

Rev David Barr, minister of Glenmuick Church of Scotland, is administering the flood fund along with Reverend Vittoria Hancock of St Kentigern's Episcopal Church.

"The money goes out as soon as it comes in," Mr Barr says. "About 99 percent of it is going directly to individuals affected by the flood. There are people who were on zero hours contracts who have lost their jobs because the place where they worked is no longer there.

"The insurance companies have been good but they can't replace all the lost personal items, and not everyone was insured for one reason or another.

"Some people have lost everything: all their clothes, their personal items, their photographs were washed away. Children lost all their belongings, their clothes, and even their Christmas presents."

Mr Barr says he knows of 10 families who will soon have to move from the temporary accommodation they have been living in. Several families have been living in holiday homes which have existing bookings. Those families want to remain in the village, some because they are carers for other residents, others for work or because they have children in the school.

"Aberdeenshire Council has been great but they can't offer housing in Ballater because there isn't any housing in Ballater," Mr Barr said. "So we are trying to find out the exact number of families who need to stay and we are hoping to lease some caravans and find a piece of land where we can site them."

The plan faces several hurdles including finding affordable caravans, securing a site and getting planning permission from the council. And it also depends on those donations continuing to come in.

"It's all about hope," Mr Barr says.

The fund has also paid for monthly community events aimed at supporting flood affected children.

"Even though the parents are trying to do their best, the children pick up on their body language and the emotions," he said. "We have had children looking out of the window at 2 in the morning, afraid the water is going to come. They are traumatised."

Mr Barr says everyone is grateful for the volunteers who are helping the recovery effort and for the donations that are helping families survive.

"Without the resilience and community spirit of the people of Ballater we would be in a very different place," he said. "And without the support and generosity we have received from people in Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, in the United Kingdom and all over the world, we would not be as hopeful and optimistic about the future."

Now the water has subsided, on the outside the village looks normal, he says. Go inside the houses and it is a different story.

"The floors are ripped up, the walls are stripped back to the brick and there is no furniture," he said. "One house I went into had 2 1/2 to 3 inches of muddy silt covering everything. It was like a carpet of silt all the way through the house."

"It will take from six months to a year for some of the houses to be lived in again."

You can contact Rev David Barr or contribute to the Ballater Flood Fund at The Manse of Glenmuick, Craigendarroch Walk, Ballater, AB35 5ZB.