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Alyth residents to be back home for Christmas after flooding devastation

Alyth Hotel owner David Coupar hopes to reopen his business by March.
Alyth Hotel owner David Coupar hopes to reopen his business by March.

Residents of Alyth will get the “best Christmas present ever” with confirmation their homes will be ready in time for the festive season.

Tenants were affected by the worst flood to hit Alyth in 140 years when torrential downpours hit the east Perthshire town on July 17.

The Alyth Burn overflowed, with debris and fallen trees blocking several bridges.

The devastation led to hundreds of residents being evacuated and left many locals stranded in their homes.

Springbank was one of the hardest-hit areas, with the surreal spectacle of parked cars being piled on each other as water cascaded through the town. In addition, many homes there suffered a deluge of filthy water a metre deep.

Council leader Ian Miller told The Courier of his delight at council tenants returning home for the festive season.

“I’m sure that getting back home in time for Christmas is the best possible present residents could ask for,” he said.

“We have been working flat out to restore as many as possible of the flooded council properties in Springbank Road to occupational standard. We have also taken the opportunity to install some safety features which will help to prevent such serious damage in future.”

The painstaking work has included using dehumidifiers 24/7 in affected council houses and removing debris, stripping out floors, damp proofing, concreting new floors, replacing insulation and flooring and refitting bathrooms.

Mr Miller continued: “New solums and closing vents will mean that any further damage will be limited. Out of 19 properties that were badly flooded we now have nine completed, a further three are unoccupied and four are in progress and soon to be complete.

“The remaining three will have work started on them after the holidays. This is at the request of tenants who asked, for various reasons, to delay repairs until then.”

He said the “scale” of the repairs has been extensive and has included electrical, plumbing, joinery, plastering, decorating and building work.

“Our contractors have been on site since day one and have done a great job in coordinating the various trades to allow the houses to be back in use at the earliest possible time,” he added.’Alyth is just amazing’The owner of an Alyth caf that was one of the first businesses to reopen after the devastating flood said winning a business award has been the perfect end to a year they would rather forget.

Ashley Boath, 44, who runs the Caf in the Square, told The Courierwinning the Best Business in Alyth prize at the Perthshire Business Awards was ideal after so much “doom and gloom” for the Perthshire town.

“We were lucky as we turned the caf around in a month,” she said.“This was because we used local tradesmen who came and worked through the day and night. The lossadjustors and insurers thought it would take three to four months to get back but there was no way we could have waited as we had lost the bakery in the flood, so the caf was our only source of income and obviously people’s jobs as people who worked in the bakery came across to work in the cafe.”

She continued: “The community of Alyth got right behind us and were very supportive in re-opening the caf. Alyth has amazing community spirit on the day itself people came around to the caf, rolled up their sleeves and helped mop up. There was a moment in the morning where we just felt alone and thought ‘how on earth are we going to cope with this.

“Then suddenly you have around 20 people behind you, carrying dishes and mops. Alyth is just amazing and everyone here deserves the best Christmas ever. Much deserved after the year we’ve had.

“Flooding is still a worry and the council handed out sandbags on Friday but thankfully all the rain has passed us by the last couple of weeks.”

“It’s fantastic news that people from Springbank are getting back for Christmas,” she added.“Obviously nobody expected the flashflood that took place on July 17 and these people were taken from their homes and decanted. So for them to get home for Christmas is amazing and a great effort on everybody’s part.”’The end is in sight’The owner of the Alyth Hotel admitted his “work in progress” to refit the building after the flood has been a “long struggle” but remains optimistic he will reopen in February or March.

David Coupar, 54, told The Courier that recent flooding in Cumbria makes the Alyth situation “pale by comparison” but still doesn’t want to see it occur again.

“We were right in the middle of the summer season when the flood hit us schools had come off for the holiday and we were packed out during the Open golf championship in St Andrews, so we were very busy,” he said. “It was our busiest time of the year but these things happen.

“And now we’re going to miss the Christmas season so that again is a big loss to us and also to the local community.However, the end is in sight now.There’s a lot of work going on in the hotel and it’s cost a lot of money.

“We’ll look at the balance books but should be back in operation eight weeks after Christmas.Ourselves and David Sim’s are the last two businesses in Alyth to reopen.It has been a real struggle but we’re on our way there now.”

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