Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Stonehaven Floods

Monday 1st November

It was as the bell struck midnight that the call came.

The clothes that I had just arranged in a neat pile on the floor before climbing into bed were put back on.

The light rain that was conjured into stinging needles by the wind assaulted me as I climbed into the car.

I was off up to Stonehaven near Aberdeen where there were reports of severe flooding.

By the time I reached the Edinburgh City Bypass only a few moments drive from home the rain had ceased its attack.

By the time I crossed the Forth Road Bridge the wind had reduced to a balmy zephyr.

I pulled off the main dual carriage way  nearing Stonehaven as the clock approached 3 am.

The wind was still and the road dry.

There were tell tale signs of recent water activity. 

Soil mingled with bits of dead leaves and twigs were scattered over the road.

An occasional thin fast moving curtain of water ran diagonally across the road.

There were little deposits of the twigs, leaves and other foliage neatly tucked around the wheels of parked cars as if to try and hid the join between road and tyre.

A blue police sign said “road closed”.

I slowly drove passed it and eased my way into the deserted town.

The street lights were on but as expected at that time in the morning the lights in the houses were out.

Then, in the midst of the town illuminations was a patch of blackness slightly broken up by flashing reflections from a pool of water.

I stopped and took a few shots of the cars up to their axles in water and the sand bags over doors to try and keep the water out.

The night time silence was eerie broken only by the faint whistling of the wind and a solitary car alarm going off in the middle of the water.

The Dark Flooded Streets of Stonehaven.

No coffee in the Villa Cafe for a couple of days?

A little further up the road the only signs of life I saw were two fire engines parked up.

Approaching them I could see weary looking firemen inside.

One of them told me that there work was done as the water was subsiding.

They then drove off.

The Echoing Town Hall.

I went to the Town Hall this was where I had been told any flood evacuees might be.

The lights were on and through the frosted glass of some of the windows I could see inside. There was no visible movement.

I tried the big dark red door. It was locked. I shoved it and banged on it a couple of times. The noise echoed and I half thought it would open with a ghostly creak and I would be greeted by a scary old man clutching a candelabra and saying “We’ve been expecting you”.

Instead nothing happened the echo died away and silence reigned again.

Just then I did see another human. A policeman had pulled up in a police van to take away some of the parking cones that had been used to block of some of the roads.

Like the firemen he looked tired and dishevelled.

He told me that the majority of the people who had been washed out of their homes had either gone to homes of family and friends or were in the Royal Hotel next to the Town Hall.

It too had all the lights on and the door firmly shut. Once again I could see in through the window to the bar area. It was deserted but brightly lit.

Like the Town Hall the noise I made knocking on the doors and window brought no response.

The Lights are on but there's no one about.

So I did some more shots of the flood damage such as there was and rang to tell the office what I had to report.

I pretty much knew what they wanted to see and hear. 

People seated round in groups huddled in blankets with steaming mugs of tea telling vivid stories of how they had just escaped with their lives from the sudden rush of water and that they had lost everything was the script they were probably working to .

No luck this time. The next job for me was to get back on the road and get the pictures to GMTV’s local opt out office in Glasgow so that they could be sent to London to get on air.

I headed south arriving in Glasgow at almost exactly 6 am. I heard the BBC news that in Huntly about 50 miles north of Stonehaven people were in the process of being evacuated from their homes.

Those were the pictures that would  have been the ones to have but, if I had gone that bit further north it would not have been possible to get back in time to get them broadcast. 

After the rushes were fed to GMTV I drove back to Edinburgh and my welcoming warm bed.

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