No deaths, no serious injuries as Scotland emerges from eye of the storm


By G.A.Ponsonby
Scotland awoke today to find buildings damaged, fallen trees and a not insignificant loss to the economy as the gale force winds, christened ‘Hurricane Bawbag’ bade farewell.
The good news is that – miraculously – no-one was killed nor has there been any reports of serious injury.

The storm hit mid-morning yesterday, but by then the lines of communication set up by the Scottish Government had already kicked in.

The Resilience Committee, chaired by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, had been receiving and relaying the latest updates from the Met office direct to local authorities and other bodies.  A communication network of government bodies, police, transport authorities and local government meant that Scotland was prepared for the worst.

Local authorities were able to make decisions based on the most up to date information.  Schools were closed where necessary and parents were informed at the earliest possible opportunity through local and national radio, internet and TV.

One of the most impressive systems was employed by Glasgow council who were able to send text messages to parents direct to mobile phones.

By lunchtime, conditions had deteriorated as the winds picked up earlier than expected.  The police were ready and the public were advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.  Some businesses, aware of the deterioration in conditions, allowed staff home early.

Incidents though were inevitable and two trains stranded in separate places in Strathclyde meant that 100 passengers had to be rescued.

Around 60,000 homes went without power as utility companies worked feverishly to remedy the situation as quickly as possible, vulnerable customers were contacted to ensure appropriate measures were in place.

Around 60 passengers stranded at Edinburgh airport due to flight cancellations were provided with blankets and other supplies.

On a less serious note, players from the Hibernian football team were forced to abandon their training as the strong winds made it impossible.

In one of the most spectacular incidents a wind turbine in North Ayrshire caught fire as the blades were locked when the national grid was unable to cope with the power being fed into the system.  With rotors unable to turn, one turbine crashed to the ground under the force of the gales.

A surgery unit at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy had to be evacuated after part of the roof was ripped off by the severe gusts.

Lorries were blown over and roofs were damaged as the wind ravaged the country, but mercifully, the planning and organisation put in place worked perfectly as people heeded warnings and responded to information.

In all there were 95 incidents on the road networks, mostly due to fallen trees and 85 per cent of these have already been dealt with.  Work is continuing to get all roads re-opened as quickly as possible.

Speaking late Thursday evening Nicola Sturgeon said there remained a risk of blizzard conditions as the weather front moved across the country and added:

“I am relieved to say – although there is no room for complacency – that there have been no serious injuries or fatalities. I hope that situation continues.”