Elderly man missing amid flooding after record-breaking rainfall

The search is ongoing as councils across Scotland respond to serious flooding.

Key Points
Latest weather disruption
  • Elderly man missing overnight after getting into trouble in River Tay
  • ScotRail routes between Stirling, Perth and Inverness affected by floodwater
  • Yellow weather warning for rain in place for part of Scotland on Tuesday
  • RNLI crew said lives were ‘put at risk’ after a hoax distress flare was set off in torrential conditions

An urgent search is ongoing for an elderly man who has been missing overnight after getting into difficulty in the River Tay amid widespread flooding.

Emergency services, including boats and a helicopter, were called to the incident near Strathtay in Perthshire at around 5.30pm on Sunday, October 8 after receiving a report of concern for a 77-year-old man in the water.

Despite efforts, the man has not been found and police confirmed on Monday that searches were resuming.

It comes as there are 52 flood warnings, and two severe flood warnings, in place across the country after record-breaking rainfall over the weekend.

While no weather warnings are in place, river levels are continuing to rise and the ground is saturated, increasing the risk of flooding.

Residents in Perth’s North Inch have criticised a delay in closing floodgates with areas including The Bell’s Sports Centre being flooded as a result of the weekend downpours.

Perthshire North MSP John Swinney said: “From speaking with local residents, there is clearly concern about the closure of the North Inch floodgates.

“It is vital that Perth and Kinross Council address these concerns openly, and provide a full explanation of the situation.

“I have raised these concerns already with Perth and Kinross Council, and I think it is important that the council engage with all affected parties regarding this matter.”

Aberfeldy Holiday Park was also evacuated after the extreme amounts of rainfall.

Perth and Kinross Council said they are planning to “review” the response after “near unprecedented rise in water levels of the Tay” which led to the area of North Inch flooding before the flood gates could properly close.

According to SEPA water levels rose to 4.9m on Sunday morning near the record level of 4.93 metres recorded 30 years ago, and more than double the level it was at 24 hours earlier.

A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “We will be reviewing our response to the incident to see what can be learned for future events. We will also be speaking to residents to hear about their experiences to better understand what happened and the impact on them.

“We are extremely grateful to Community Resilience Groups across Perth and Kinross who assisted residents impacted by flooding over the weekend.

“We are continuing to assist residents affected by flooding across Perth and Kinross and are preparing for further rainfall on Tuesday. We would advise residents to remain vigilant and anyone who requires support should contact us on 01738 476476.

“There is a considerable amount of standing water across Perth and Kinross and we would remind people not to enter or play in water as it can be extremely hazardous.”

The A83 remains closed after a number of vehicles were stuck between Inverary and the Rest and Be Thankful and an HM Coastguard helicopter was used to take them to safety.

Bear Scotland says it will reassess the conditions on Tuesday and hope to reopen the closed section at Cairndow.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area and approximately 9,500 tonnes of debris has been removed by teams so far.

Bear Scotland say a further approx. 2,000 tonnes on the hillside will likely to need removed before the road can safely open.

The A83 has been shut after landslides from severe weather.STV News

Ian Stewart, BEAR Scotland’s North West Representative, said: “The scale of the operation to clear the A83 is considerable, but the teams on site are working hard and for as long as they can safely do so. We’re working with partners to assess current conditions and continue the clean up in advance of further rain forecast on Tuesday.

“We want to thank the local residents in the area for their patience. Our priority is to get the road open again as soon as possible, while ensuring the safety of those on site.”

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “Our teams continue to work hard to clear the road network in Argyll and Bute, and we are inspecting the impact that the weekend’s weather has had on our bridges and roads, as far as conditions allow.

“On the A816 near Ardfern, a landslip resulted in more than 6,000 tonnes of debris blocking a 200-metre section of the road. Specialist engineers have been on site and have identified further unstable material on the hillside above the road, including a number of potentially unsafe boulders, some weighing in excess of 70 tonnes. With further rain forecast overnight, we will need to reassess the situation again. The safety of the public and our workforce is a priority and we are working through engineering options for the next steps.”

Police Scotland’s advice remains that people should only travel if necessary. If a journey is essential, a diversion is in place for this route via the A83, A819 and A85.

Despite major disruption to transport across the weekend, ScotRail said it was expecting to run a full service across most of the network on Monday morning including the central belt.

However, service delivery manager David Simpson said routes from Stirling to Perth and from Perth to Inverness were still affected by floodwater.

The Stonehaven to Arbroath route is also awaiting the completion of safety inspections, he added.

The greatest risk to a normal restart for ScotRail on Monday is on the Highland Main Line and the Perthshire areas where floodwaters remain high, so passengers whose journey runs between Perth and Inverness or Perth and Stirling are urged to check before leaving home.

Aerial shots show Aviemore flooded on Sunday, October 8, 2023Perfect View Productions

In an update on Sunday, Mr Simpson said: “The weather we have seen over the weekend has been extreme and in some parts of the country we are continuing to see dangerous levels of rainfall and flooding. We appreciate that weather related disruption like this can be frustrating, but our first priority has to be the safety of the public and our colleagues.

“Our staff across the country, alongside colleagues at Network Rail, are working hard to get services back to normal as quickly and safely as possible, with the priority being getting things back to normal for Monday morning.

“Customers are advised that they should check their journey before travelling, and keep an eye on our website, app, or social media feeds for live updates.”

Cowalfest walking festival, due to be held between October 12 and 16 has been cancelled due to unprecedented rainfall on Saturday, organisers have confirmed.

Flooding and landslips have caused damage to the trail.

Perfect View Productions

All bookings made so far for each of the festival’s 50 plus walks and activities will be refunded in full over the coming days and weeks.

A further yellow warning for rain has been issued for parts of western Scotland for Tuesday.

Following disruptive rainfall across much of Scotland in recent days, a further period of fairly heavy rainfall is likely to affect many western parts of Scotland during Tuesday.

Across many western areas 15-25 mm of rain could fall quite widely, with peak totals of 40-50 mm possible over and around the high ground. It may bring further impacts from flooding, including the disruption of travel, given the recent wet conditions.

Cowalfest chair Agnes Harvey said: “The decision to cancel the festival was a   unanimous one within our committee, all of whom are volunteers and have spent hundreds of hours working on the event over the past 12 months.  

Clear up on Rest and Be Thankful is under wayA & L McCrae Ltd.

“The decision takes into account the extensive damage to the Cowal landscape caused by flooding and the resulting health and safety risks to walkers and walk guides.

“Our hearts go out to those people whose homes and land have been affected by this destructive rainfall event.

“Our objective had been to put together a programme of walks and events that would encourage visitors and locals to enjoy the great outdoors across this wonderful corner of Argyll and our programme provided an excellent opportunity to achieve that.

“Bookings were on a par with past years with almost 200 having secured their places. 

“We would like to thank everyone who has taken an interest in the event including local and national   media and reassure all those who have booked that they will receive a full refund on tickets booked.”

An urgent search is ongoing for an elderly man who has been missing overnight.STV News

A lifeboat crew has said lives were “put at risk” over the weekend after a hoax distress flare was set off on dry land during torrential conditions.

RNLI teams in Stranraer were left furious when the emergency signal was activated shortly before midnight on Friday with “horrible” weather closing in – only for the alert to turn out to be false.

A used canister was later discovered after three separate reports of the beacon being activated in the Cockle Shore area of Loch Ryan were recorded amid a yellow “danger to life” warning for rain was put in place in the west of Scotland.

Coastguard crews were also deployed during the search.

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