Flooding warning as Moray battered by storm
As soon as sandbags delivered, gritters take to roads
School children were sent home at lunch time in Moray as the region prepared for the worst of Storm Caroline.
Yesterday morning the council warned that the area was at risk of a “perfect storm” as strong winds and high tides combined with blizzards inland.
Sandbags were put down in the coastal villages of Portgordon and Portessie following flood warnings.
Meanwhile council workers prepared for Garmouth and Kingston to be cut off during the high tide. Fears were raised that waves could crash over walls from the Moray Firth, flooding homes.
Pupils at Mosstodloch Primary were sent home at lunchtime as conditions worsened.
Meanwhile students in Fochabers at Milne’s Primary and Milne’s High were also sent home early.
Once sandbags were deployed the attention turned to gritting roads.
Despite the warnings, the region avoided floods.
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor David Bremner, who lives in Kingston, said: “There was a high tide but the weather was not as bad as was forecast.
“The water came up over the road but other than that I think we probably escaped the worst of it.
“Sandbags are always appreciated during days like this and I’m sure they will have eased some concerns.”
A Moray Council spokesman said: “We delivered a pallet of sandbags to Portgordon and Portessie. These were freely available for residents whose homes were at risk from waves over-topping the harbour.
“A quantity of sandbags was also in Garmouth and Kingston in a wellrehearsed scenario for protection of the villages.
“A further visit was made later in the afternoon to ensure sufficient bags were available.
“Gritters treated all routes, other than coastal roads, and carried out a second treatment in the early evening.”
A ferry was involved in a collision with another vessel while docking in extreme weather yesterday.
The incident came as pupils were rescued from a school bus in Orkney as waves crashed around it on a coastal road, and thousands of island homes lost power, and planes, trains and ferries were cancelled.
The Orkney ferry Hamnavoe was unable to dock in Stromness and was escorted by a tug to Scapa Flow where she was expected to spend the night, leaving 23 passengers stranded at sea.
During the failed docking attempt, Hamnavoe was involved in a collision with Northern Lighthouse Board vessel Pole Star.
Last night Stuart Garrett, managing director at operators Serco NorthLink Ferries said: “Today our Pentland Firth vessel MV Hamnavoe was unable to dock at Stromness as a result of severe weather due to Storm Caroline and we are currently waiting for a break in the weather to ensure the safe arrival of our passengers in Orkney.
“While attempting to dock in these difficult conditions and with tug assistance, light contact
“The waves were breaking over the wall – they were big”
was made with another vessel in the harbour which resulted in minor vessel damage but no injuries to those on board.
“We will continue looking after our passengers on board until they are able to safely disembark. Current forecasts suggest that there is a possibility that this could be tomorrow.
Winds reached up to 79mph at Altnaharra in Sutherland, with 33ft waves battering the coast. A top wind speed of 124mph was recorded on Cairngorm Mountain.
More than 30 youngsters on board a school bus in Orkney had a “lucky escape” when it broke down in the storm and was battered by huge waves breaking over the sea wall at Scapa Beach Road in Kirkwall.
The Kirkwall Grammar pupils were rescued by a 4x4 in a dramatic operation. The incident happened around 11.20am.
Former Kirkwall Lifeboat coxswain Geoff Gardens came across the rescue.
Mr Gardens, 65, said: “In all my years this is the worst weather I have seen for many a day. The children were very lucky.
“The children were all fine but the bus was rocking. The waves were breaking over the wall – they were big.
“It took quite a few runs to get all the kids off – they were calm throughout ”
Bus, ferry and train services were suspended across the Highlands and islands, and fallen trees caused further disruption on roads.
Scotrail Alliance said a limited number of services had resumed on the West Highland line last night but services between Inverness and Wick/Thurso, and Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh, remained suspended.
Safety checks were being undertaken on the Aberdeen-Inverness line.
Water washes over coastal defences at Cromarty Bridge
Vojta Veszpremi attached his four-year-old son Tobias to a large nylon rope and donned helmets to stop him being blown away by Storm Caroline in Stornoway on Lewis yesterday
CRUEL SEA: Waves crash along the shore at Portessie, where sandbags had been handed out by the council
MV Hamnavoe, escorted by a tug, heads back out to Scapa Flow
A trampoline on rail tracks caused delays