A Close Call

With a great deal of effort and more than a little luck Freuchie survived the very heavy rainfall that fell on the East of Scotland on Sunday. The small flood improvement measures we have already made since the 2008 floods, the help of many people from the community to manage flood water, the early assistance of Fife Council and the heroic efforts of Fife Fire & Rescue Service all added up to saving our village from a repeat of the devastating 2008 floods.

Freuchie Flood Action Group is aware of many areas that were being monitored and at least two location where active flood protection and prevention works were being carried out. We would have liked to have been out and about doing more observations but our time was consumed fighting back the flood waters in areas known to be at high risk.

Let’s take a whirlwind tour of these area and highlight the key points.

 

ALBANY CRESCENT
The run-off from the fields to the south of Albany Crescent was putting the homes in this part of the village at risk of flooding. Only the prompt action of local residents who dug appropriate drainage channels, and then travelled to Cupar to collect and deploy sandbags, ensured that properties – many of them occupied by elderly and vulnerable individuals – survived unscathed despite the 18 inch-deep water in the streets.

Patrick Laughlin, Chairman of Freuchie Community Council, was amongst those helping at this location, and was also out and about during the afternoon observing the nature and sequence of flooding throughout the village. He said afterwards that the day’s events had served to highlight that flooding was an issue which now threatened to affect almost every part of Freuchie. At Albany Crescent, the impromptu dams which were built to divert water away from the most-threatened properties were effective and necessary, but had the side effect of directing the waters down other streets previously felt to be risk-free.

Please contact us if you have photographs of the flood waters in this area of the village.

 

FREUCHIE DEN
No reports as yet of property flooding up Freuchie Den. Work was carried out last year to reduce the risk of flooding and it would appear to have been successful. 

Road consumed by flood waters in Freuchie Den Downstream of Freuchie Den with a bridge almost underwater
Photos: Farm road to Freuchie Den and bridge downstream 

The information and photographs clearly show an area that still requires further flood prevention work to lessen the existing flood risk.

 

GREEN TREE BRAE
Alarmingly high water levels were observed further downstream on Freuchie Burn. A usually babbling brook type flow had turned into a torrent that was engulfing land adjacent to the burn banks. Flood alarms installed by residents were activated warning of a danger of flooding.

Freuchie Burn at Green Tree Brae Freuchie Burn at Green Tree Brae Photos: Freuchie Burn at Green Tree Brae

The burn rose to such a height that it would have been flowing over the walkway of the old bridge, had it still be there, putting the homes at the bottom of Green Tree Brae at high risk of flooding. Thankfully the unsafe bridge was removed earlier this year and the gap in the wall bricked up as a flood prevention measure.

 

FREUCHIE MILL
Last and certainly not least! Freuchie Mill would likely have flooded to property damaging levels if we had seen another hour of rain.  The culvert would have been overtopped by the Millwaters Burn if the rain had not gone off when it did. At its height the burn water was starting to lap onto the top of the gabion baskets. Unfortunately we were too busy fighting the flood to take photographs at that moment!

Freuchie Mill culvert entrance one hour before flooding started Freuchie Mill diversion pipe one hour before flooding started
Photos: Freuchie Mill culvert inlet end one hour before peak flows and the diversion pipe that was reinstated

Thankfully our request for the diversion pipe to be used, Fife Council’s work to inspect the pipe along its length and Kingdom Housing’s restoration work have proven to be a life saver on this occasion. The diversion pipe was operating at full bore and really made all the difference during this weather event.

Freuchie Mill culvert outlet - 1 hour still to go to peak flow Freuchie Mill culvert outlet at the flood peak
Photos: Freuchie Mill culvert outlet one hour before peak flow and during the peak when flooding was starting to occur

On this occasion, the greatest flow of flood water into Freuchie Mill came down from the Chicken Farm and then cascaded down Freuchie Mill Road, joining in with the flood waters already coming down the road. The drainage, or should that be lack of drainage, requires immediate action along with the correction of the incorrect road camber that brings nearly all the run off water down into Freuchie Mill. The flooding on the road resulted in a car parked in one of the Freuchie Mill Road cottages being written off.

Torrent of flood water coming from Freuchie Mill Road into Freuchie Mill Torrent of flood water coming from Freuchie Mill Road into Freuchie Mill
Photos: Flooding begins with run off from Freuchie Mill Road 

Fife Fire & Rescue Service arrived at a timely moment to help with the flood protection work. We requested they deploy a pressurised fire hose across Freuchie Mill Road as a damming measure to stem the flow of flood waters. Pumping out operations began swiftly thereafter to keep the water to a very minimal level.

Firemen getting set-up in the fight against the flood waters Fire engine pumping out flood waters
Photos: Fife Fire & Rescue Service arrives onsite 

It quickly became apparent the fire hose wouldn’t be enough by itself thus a frantic search began to find materials to dam off the road. A source of rocks and bricks was found allowing the firemen, residents and Andy Walls of Kingdom Housing to start the construction of a two tier dam structure that took the majority of the flood waters down the side of the bridge and into the stream downstream of Freuchie Mill. A big thanks to all the residents from surrounding properties, most of whom weren’t under threat of flooding, but still came out in cold and wet condition to lend a hand – we couldn’t have done it without you. 

Fire crews start to deploy hoses to block flood waters Dam building begins to stop flood water running into Freuchie Mill
First tier of the Freuchie Mill Road dam blocking the flood waters Two tier complete ensure the majority of the Freuchie Mill Road flood waters go into the burn
Photos: Dam construction on Freuchie Mill Road

Towards the end of the flood event a few of the private homes in Freuchie Mill started to see the flood waters rising. This was caused by the burn waters that come down through Freuchie Mill House and run underground around the back of the the west side private houses having no where to drain off to and therefore bursting through the back gardens. Most of these houses already had flood protection measures in place  to prevent the majority of the dirty flood water entering the underfloor void. Once again the firemen jumped into action and started to pump out the areas now being flooded. Unfortunately there was damage done by this phase of the flood: holes in gardens, subsidence of driveways and loss of property from garden sheds and bike storage units. The losses will run into hundreds of pounds to repair and replace the flood damaged items, but it could have been so much more!

Flooded driveway at Freuchie Mill Flooded garden at Freuchie Mill
Photos: Flood water starts to threaten houses in Freuchie Mill

Just as in previous flood events, Fife Fire & Rescue Service personnel were magnificent and we cannot thank them enough for their hard work, professionalism and skill in dealing with the flood waters. Only one fire appliance was required to keep the flood water level at a minimum, although it took additional personnel on the ground to win the day. The Fire Service prevented £500,000 of flood damage with the related loss of four social housing units and eight private homes for six months whilst recovery and restoration work took place.

Fife Council must also be thanked for dispatching sandbags out to us. The personnel manning the operation were working under enormous pressure and unbelievable demands.

The small flood protection measures already taken substantially improved our chances of surviving extreme weather. There are other small measures that can now be taken to make further improvements without substantial capital spend. We will be working to implement these as quickly as possible.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS
Climatologists and other weather professionals are predicting extreme weather events will be more frequent and intense over the coming years. Every near miss allows us to better understand the flood sequence and the flood protection improvements required to prevent future property damage and threat to life.

Please let us know if you have any photographs of flooding in Freuchie. Likewise get in touch if you know of any area of Freuchie under risk during this event that we aren’t yet aware about. The information we glean from every report and photograph improves our knowledge immensely.

Photos are courtesy of Ross Robertson, Ian Porter and John Thomson.

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