Roanheads folk return at last to their homes

Roanheads resident John Montgomery outside his repaired home.
Roanheads resident John Montgomery outside his repaired home.

Peterhead residents who have finally been able to return to their homes six months after they were devastated by storms have thanked emergency services.

The storm on December 12 devastated Roanheads, smashing windows and doors, flooding houses and overturning a car.

More than 30 residents were evacuated by the police and fire services that night and many have only returned home in recent weeks.

John Montgomery (70), and his wife were able to return the very next day after emergency services had made the area safe.

He was relatively lucky - the damage to his home appears to have been superficial and he has been putting the finishing touches to the front of his house by stripping back and repainting the door and window frames.

Mr Montgomery remembers the gas and electricity on the street being cut for fears that the storm could cause an explosion. He said: “The electricity and gas people were amazing that night. The police did good work too.”

Mr and Mrs Montgomery’s great-granddaughter Freya was staying with them that December night and when two female police officers waded to their front door to rescue them she reacted unexpectedly.

“Freya thought all the commotion was a Santa party! She was helping out with her torch.

“Then, when we got to the Palace Hotel where several residents were evacuated to, there were people dressed up as Santa for Christmas events. Freya was in her element.”

Jack Stewart (85), was rescued by firemen from an upstairs room in his house which was one of those worst hit.

He said: “It seems like a bad dream. I was lying in bed downstairs and the water was coming in. The windows were out and so was the bottom half of the front door.”

Mr Stewart was able to climb the stairs to safety, recalling: “I intended to stay in until daylight but the firemen came in. They were very good.”

The gas fire in his home was torn from the wall by the water and gas was leaking into the living room.

Mr Stewart wasn’t injured but emergency services took him to A&E as a precaution.

It was his Vauxhall Astra car which appeared on the front cover of the Buchanie after having been swept down the road and smashing into a nearby workshop.

Mr Stewart has only been back in his refurbished home for three weeks - he had been staying with family in Corby - but said: “It’s perfect now.”

His close friend and neighbour Meg Bowie (86), lives in an upstairs flat at the south end of the esplanade.

Her great-grandfather built the house and it has been in her family ever since.

She said: “It’s been six months but it’s heaven and earth to be home.”

“Look at that view,” she said, pointing out over the esplanade wall to a now serene North Sea, “you can’t buy that now.”

Not all those residents who were evacuated that night had to wait so long to return home.

The emergency response was managed by the Grampian Strategic Coordinating Group, made up of organisations including Aberdeenshire Council, Grampian Police, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Ambulance Service.