East Lothian Council admits flood warnings failed to arrive in time to prevent chaos

Warnings about potential flooding across East Lothian at the weekend failed to arrive in time to prevent problems.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 6:43 pm
Updated Monday, 21st October 2019, 7:40 pm
Historic Preston Mill in East Linton was flooded over the weekend. Pictured is the same mill flooded following heavy rain in 1992. Picture: TSPL

East Lothian Council said that preparations for bad weather relied on “timely advice” from its partners.

However, the sudden downpour which struck the county in the early hours of Saturday appeared to catch everyone out, with the council’s roads team receiving first calls for help at 7am on Saturday.

It is understood that the first flooding warning the local authority received came four hours later when river banks had already burst and part of the A1 was underwater.

East Lothian Council said that it was called to incidents in Haddington, Pencaitland, North Berwick, Gifford, Macmerry, East Linton, East Fortune, Longniddry and Athelstaneford.

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In Haddington, the River Tyne burst its banks, rising by an estimated two metres and spilling onto roads and threatening nearby businesses.

At least one establishment near the river, Poldrate’s, was flooded by water.

In surrounding villages, the run-off from the fields in the aftermath of the early-morning downpours saw debris and rainwater pouring into streets.

The A1 was closed by police for several hours outside Haddington after the carriageway flooded.

The local authority said that it was now reviewing its weather procedures after the weekend’s downpours.

A council spokesperson said: “Generally our teams and communities have a level of preparedness in advance of any weather events; however, this relies on us receiving timely advice from partner agencies.

“On this occasion, the forecast information provided to us did not indicate the extent and severity of rainfall experienced on Saturday in East Lothian.

“However, our roads team were on standby and reacted promptly as the weather events unfolded.

“Our contact centre received its first call at 7am on Saturday morning and our roads team mobilised and attended to incidents throughout the day, providing sandbags, clearing road drains and taking action as required. We received our final call at 5pm.

“The majority of incidents received were resolved quickly and related to run-off from fields with debris washed onto roads and to fallen leaves which we cleared from the surface of road drains.

“As standard practice, we will now assess the issues identified and prioritise any actions required as a result of the rainfall.”