Four Christian groups are helping Ballater recover from the floods

Deeside Flood

Ballater Minister Rev David Barr says the community is still coming to grips with the aftermath of the record flooding that affected 485 properties and close to 1000 people.

Four different Christian groups are actively helping out in Ballater, Mr Barr says. The Salvation Army has sent street pastors to help out while Father Chris Brown from St Nathalan's Roman Catholic Church and Reverend Vittoria Hancock of St Kentigern's Episcopal Church have been working day and night, along with Mr Barr, to help residents with problems and to make pastoral visits to vulnerable and elderly residents.

"I went to visit our oldest elder who is 95 or 96." Mr Barr said. "I get to see that people are safe."

At the same time, the tasks of everyday life continue.

"I had two funerals this week," Mr Barr said. "The day to day stuff just goes on."

The council has delivered two 20-foot containers complete with shelving to hold food and clothing. Mr Barr himself has just one pair of trousers and one suit. His other clothes were given to people who had lost their clothes in the flood.

But what's uppermost on many people's minds is the cost of the flood damage and insurance.

"People are getting very varied responses," Mr Barr said. "Some insurance companies have been easy to deal with. Others have not turned up when they say they will or when they have looked at the damage they go away saying they will have to come back to assess the costs. People can't rip out sodden carpets and so on until they get that go ahead. And some people didn't have insurance at all. So that is all very frustrating and people are anxious. "

Many of those who had to leave their homes are still staying with friends or relatives. For those who can't return to their own homes, the path ahead is not likely to be easy. However, the council has now rehoused everyone who registered as homeless including 140 people who had been living in the local barracks.

"The barracks have been great," Mr Barr says. "Their warehouses are holding most of our food and clothing supplies at the moment. And they are not the only people who are helping out.

"We're getting tremendous help from the Princes Trust, who have helped us get the use of a landrover from Pentland Landrover in Elgin. There are many other businesses across the area that are helping out—too many to name them all. An oil company sent a set of lounge chairs, for example."

"And the Charitable Chiels, a group of local men, have been involved with finding resources for those in need."

Elders at Glenmuick Church are worried about how to cover the next electricity bills. Fearing that the town might lose electricity altogether, the Church was heated and stayed open around the clock for two weeks, offering a warm, safe place and support. Volunteers from the three churches ran a soup kitchen for many days.

But the elders are wondering what the bill will mean for Church finances, Mr Barr said.

"We are a wee church so it could be a big expense for us to stay open and keep the heating on. The Elders are not saying we shouldn't do it but they are just worried about how sustainable it is."

This week the Church is trying to get back to its normal routine hosting groups such as the mother and toddler group. But at least half the village will need major repairs.

"This is going to go on for months if not a year," Mr Barr said. "But this is a resilient community and we will get there."

To contribute to Glenmuick Church's heating bill send cheques for Glenmuick Parish Church Heating Fund, The Manse of Glenmuick, Craigendarroch Walk, Ballater, AB35 5ZB.