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Caithness countryside awash after weather bomb

By David G Scott

MUCH of the Caithness countryside was washed out over the weekend with Storm Jorge passing over the UK.

Wick weather watcher Keith Banks said the heavy rains associated with the storm satisfied the criteria for it to be categorised as a "weather bomb".

He said: "The rain was particularly heavy between 3am and 11am on Saturday and would have caused standing water problems on many roads, making driving potentially hazardous for road users."

Water on a road in the Dunnet area.Picture: DGS
Water on a road in the Dunnet area.Picture: DGS

Many farmers' fields in Caithness experienced flooding and some roads carried large amounts of water, with one driver in the Canisbay district saying his car aquaplaned due to the conditions.

Wick High School teacher Chris Aitken was driving by Upper Gills when he encountered a road that was swamped with water and took a photograph.

"We are seeing this flooding happen quite often due to lack of roadside maintenance in our area," he said. "Any maintenance would be good, be that pothole filling, ditch digging or gritting."

Flooding in the Canisbay area was especially bad at the weekend.Picture: Chris Aitken
Flooding in the Canisbay area was especially bad at the weekend.Picture: Chris Aitken

Dunnet, Scarfskerry and Canisbay experienced flooded roads but Newton Hill near Wick was also reported to have ditches full of water that spilled over onto roads.

Garry Anderson reported that the ditches at the top of Newton Hill were a "disgrace" and were full of "standing water".

He claimed that some areas around the former refuse dump carried water that was four feet deep which could be a "health hazard" for children, pets and wildlife.

Mr Anderson believes that Highland Council is failing to clean and service ditches "along the roadside bordering the old dump".

Flooded fields near Castletown.
Flooded fields near Castletown.

However, council officers are said to have written to those affected by the issue to explain why it is ongoing.

They said that the problem lies with ownership of certain ditches and the responsibility for their upkeep.

Another area affected was Watten, where the river burst its banks and flooded areas of pasture around the village.

Commenting on social media, Marc MacDonald reported that the junction between the main road and Forss Business and Energy Park "was like a river".

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said that it was fortunate there was no immediate threat to dwelling places in the county but attention should be paid to the areas of flooding around ditches and roads.

"These areas need attention because lying water on roads accelerates their deterioration," he said.

Flooded fields near Castletown.
Flooded fields near Castletown.

"Recently, with the amount of rainfall in some places, a number of local folk have been in touch in respect of specific concerns and we know that the council’s officers have already arranged for some of them to be attended."

Councillor Bremner urged local people to take photographs of ditches and roads prone to flooding and send the images and information to the council.

He added that some areas of flooding are not always the fault of the person owning the land surrounding it but can stem from issues at a neighbouring piece of land.

"The council’s officers have been encouraging them [landowners] to attend to the problem where they’re made aware of it," he said.

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