THE sheer scale of Storm Frank’s damage has emerged in comprehensive details of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) reaction to flooding across the country.

A statement from the SFRS said firefighters had been dealing with “extraordinary and extremely challenging circumstances” in which crews had been working flat out for more than a week.

In total, SFRS received 350 flooding related calls from December 30 up until yesterday (January 5) while firefighters attended a host of other flooding-related incidents, particularly across the north of Scotland.

Incidents included a local authority sheltered housing complex in Aberdeen’s Bridge of Dee being badly affected by flooding. Three elderly women were rescued from basement level flats just before the windows and doors smashed in with the force of the river flood water.

On Monday, four appliances were mobilised to a flooding incident at Bonty Court, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, with 24 residents from Allachburn care home evacuated to Aboyne Community Hospital.

Also on Monday, crews responded to flooding at a farm at Bridgehaugh, Coupar Angus, where they assisted in evacuating occupants and dogs, working in partnership with a helicopter of HM Coastguard.

Nowhere suffered more than Ballater where the fire station itself suffered extensive damage from flooding. Only after assisting members of the community, did the station’s crews return to their own homes which were also badly affected by flooding.

In the west of Scotland and the Borders, local crews from community fire stations as far apart as Aberfoyle and West Linton were the first emergency responders on the scenes of flooding, the latter crew involved in rescuing three people trapped in the swollen Lyne Water.

SFRS chief officer, Alasdair Hay, said: “Alongside our communities, many agencies and volunteers have worked tirelessly to help and support those affected. I want to pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard to support their communities.

“However, I want to pay particular tribute to all our SFRS staff right across the country as their efforts have, and continue to be, extraordinary.”

Yesterday, the cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and the environment, Richard Lochhead met residents and local response teams in flood-hit communities.

The minister visited Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Brechin in Angus and Perth where he thanked the authorities, utility partners, emergency services, Sepa and the Met Office for their hard work and commitment to managing the flooding.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s resilience committee remains in constant contact with the emergency services and relevant agencies as we continue to support affected communities and businesses.

“I thank everyone who has been involved in these efforts over the last few weeks, including the local authorities, emergency services and responders. This has been an extremely difficult time for people who have been affected and our thoughts continue to be with these communities.”

In the Holyrood parliament, Deputy First Minister John Swinney pledged more money to local authorities in the worst-hit areas, in addition to the £4 million announced in his draft budget last month. He said the money could be used by councils to relieve council tax and business rates for flood victims.

The Met Office said it was the wettest recorded December in the UK.