A Fife couple rescued from their house by boat during dramatic flooding have finally returned home following £100,000 of repairs.
Kate and Steve Hampshaw spent nine months in rented accommodation while their devastated villa in Kinglassie was rebuilt.
It was the victim of an unprecedented downpour in August, which saw the Lochty Burn burst its banks, sending a deluge of water cascading into their home.
The torrent took out their dining room wall before the roof finally collapsed and their entire ground flood was submerged in waist-height water.
Kate and Steve lost their living room, dining room and conservatory, as well as a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen during the Kinglassie flooding.
During the past nine months the retired couple joined other villagers in calling for flood prevention action to ensure the devastation is never repeated.
Dredging work is due to start
This week, as they put the final touches to their Ashgrove Terrace house, they revealed dredging work is finally about to start on the burn.
“Menzies have the job to clear silt from the burn and they start next week or the week after,” said Kate.
“I’m pleased about that because we’ve been living in fear of it happening again.
“If it does happen again we’ll pack up and go.”
The burn has already been cleared of trees and debris further downstream to stop the water backing up and a camera has been installed to monitor the water level.
Fife Council said the work should be finished by the end of May.
However, while the couple is pleased with the action taken so far, they are still in dispute with the council over the ownership of their garden wall.
The wall collapsed into the burn last during the Kinglassie flooding and is only now in the process of being rebuilt.
“Our insurance is paying for that just now but we believe the council owns half so we’ll fight it out with them later,” Kate said.
Insurance company was ‘marvellous’
Kate and Steve praised their insurance company for dealing with everything so well, although their premiums have increased by £130 a year.
“The whole house was re-floored, we have all new walls, a new dining room with steel girders, a new kitchen and bathroom,” added Kate.
“The insurance have been marvellous, they really have, but they reckon it was about £100,000 just to fix the house.”
The Covid lockdown added to the difficulties.
“We found it difficult to get carpets and everything because nothing was open,” said Kate.
“But we got there. We’re home and we’re glad to be home.”
Calling for action via zoom meetings
Villagers joined forces in the wake of the Kinglassie flooding and held regular zoom meetings, chaired by SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth.
They were attended by Fife Council, Sepa, landowners and local councillors and provided updates on any progress regarding a flood plan.
“At the start it was them against us and eventually I said stop telling us what you can’t do and tell us what you can do,” said Steve.
“Then their attitude changed and they came up with some ideas.
“We’ve seen people here doing things at the burn and hopefully it will all come to fruition.”
We expect this work to be finished by the end of May.”
Rick Haynes, Fife Council.
Ms Gilruth said she was delighted to hear the Hampshaws were home and that action is being taken to clear the burn.
“It was really important action was taken,” she said.
“That didn’t’ happen in the first instance. It was quite slow.
“It’s really good to see some progress now and the council leading on a concrete action plan.”
Unprecedented rainfall ‘one in a 1,000 year event’
The torrential rainfall which caused the disaster was described at the time as a one in a 1,000 year event.
It led to severe disruptions and extensive flooding across Fife, with hundreds of residents left to pick up the pieces.
Fife Council has now compiled a flooding register of 430 hotspots in a bid to prevent a repeat occurrence.
This is not the end of the story but it’s a brilliant starting point.”
Jenny Gilruth MSP.
Lead consultant Rick Haynes confirmed work on the Lochty Burn will start as soon as possible.
“We’ve now received all the approvals we need from Sepa to go ahead with this work, making sure we are not harming any wildlife habitats.
“All going well, we expect this work to be finished by the end of May.
“This is part of a wider programme of flood prevention works which will continue over the coming months.”
Ms Gilruth said it was important the flood study was completed as soon as possible to stop Kinglassie flooding again.
“This is not the end of the story but it’s a brilliant starting point,” she said.