Can I begin by wishing readers a Happy New Year, but I do so in the full knowledge that this was a traumatic festive season for many residents in Aberdeenshire whose homes were so badly affected by flooding.
Flooding has of course been a major problem for Aberdeenshire particularly over the past few years, as the residents of Stonehaven know all too well.
As I write this article the Scottish Environment Protection Action has said river levels are falling and the risk of more floods is “reducing”.
But the recent flooding in Aberdeenshire will bring back some bad memories for residents in the Mearns and the pictures we have seen from Ballater have shown just how bad the situation has been in parts of our region.
As a result of previous flooding both in Stonehaven and other parts of the North East I have campaigned for more to be done to protect our communities from flooding.
Action from SEPA on flood alerts has to be welcomed and it shows the campaign in the past for flood alerts to be more readily available in the North East has been the right thing to do.
What the latest rounds of flooding show is where there are known problems or expected problems there is a need for great vigilance given the horrendous impact they can have in our communities.
While we are still experiencing the bad weather which has caused these issues, focus will quickly turn to what will be done in the aftermath to clear up the devastation the floods have caused on a number of our communities.
It is hugely important now that the proper support and guidance is provided to everyone who has been affected by the floods and that action is taken swiftly to support our communities through this very difficult period.
It also raises big questions about the levels of investment in flood defences and what more can be done to help prevent flooding on this scale in the future.
Much like the campaign which the aftermath of the repeated flooding in Stonehaven where changes were made to the way in which flood alerts were carried out, it is important that we reflect on what more can be done to address the issue of flooding especially when the impact on towns, villages, families and residents in the North East can be so severe.