first thing i do is check river level

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THE flooding of April 2000 will hold memories thousands of residents across the city will never forget.

That includes Alan Ness, 74, from Bonnington, who faced a repair bill in excess of £40,000 when his property was washed out by water, the result of a wall collapsing alongside the Water of Leith, which runs next to his two-storey terraced home.

“It happened over a period of about three days,” he recalls. “The rain just never let up. We were watching the level of the river rising all the time.

“Eventually, it must have been around 10pm, the wall broke.”

Mr Ness, who lives with his wife Helen, remembers vividly the hours before the water entered their home.

“Before the wall actually broke, we could see the water rising in the communal garden at the front of our house,” he says. “Ever so slowly it was beginning to flood. Eventually there were ducks swimming on it.

“Had the wall not broken, I think we would have got away with it.”

But he didn’t and he and his wife spent around three months in rented accommodation in Meadowbank as their insurance company surveyed the damage to their property and sent in workmen to restore it to normality.

“There was nothing we could do that night, but we certainly hadn’t expected the flooding,” he says. “In fact, we’d never had anything like that before.

“It all happened very quickly. I think it took around half an hour from the wall breaking to the water entering our home.

“We’d just had a new carpet fitted in the lounge, so we ripped that up in a bid to save it and took it upstairs.

“In the end there was about nine inches of water in our house, which wasn’t nearly as bad as some people we know who had more than two feet.”

Not only did Mr Ness lose his brand new car in the flood, watching it float down the street only to recover it later to learn it was a write-off, but his house was badly damaged too.

“All the floorboards had to be lifted downstairs and some partition walls were torn down,” he explains. “Industrial driers were brought in to dry everything out. The kitchen was ruined, but thankfully nothing sentimental was lost or damaged. It could have been so much worse.

“I’m in support of all the flood prevention work that is taking place now.

“We think about the floods a lot. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is look at the level of the river.”