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Family lucky to survive peatslide

Uradale crofter Ronnie Eunson on Wednesday afternoon - all photos: Millgaet Media

A CROFTING family in Shetland is thanking their lucky stars after a peatslide almost washed away their house after record rainfall in the early hours of Wednesday.

Ronnie Eunson said he woke up at 7am to hear heavy rainfall, and looked out of the window to see the hill being torn away.

Hundreds of tonnes of peat came rushing down the hillside, washing his Land Rover and trailer a quarter of a mile down the burn that runs outside his house. His wife Susan’s Toyota Yaris was left high and dry on a stone wall.

The Eunson family were one of the worst hit in Shetland on a night where almost one month’s rainfall fell overnight, flooding roads, houses and the islands’ main golf course.

The hills around Uradale Farm following the heavy overnight rainfall

The Met Office said that 64.2mm of rain fell in just 12 hours, the previous record being 66mm coming down in the space of 24 hours in November 1949. They said the average rainfall in Shetland for August is 77mm.

The main A970 road south of Lerwick was blocked for about two hours after it was flooded with estimates of three feet of water.

The road north of the Trondra bridge was closed as well for a short while, along with the Black Gaet junction south of Lerwick.

There was a landslide at Quarff, but the slide at Uradale above the Eunson family home was the most treacherous.

“We were sleeping and at about 7am I heard a strange noise and looked out of the window and saw the side of the hill coming down,” Eunson said.

He said burn outside his house burst its banks and water came pouring through the house. When he came downstairs it was six inches deep and already flowing out again through the front door.

Mr Eunson's Land Rover ended up down quarter of a miles down the burn.

He has lost a field of silage, a lot of fencing and an old croft building he had hoped to renovate, and tanks, trees and byres are now buried underneath the peat outside his house.

“We are incredibly lucky. It all happened very quickly and if it had been daytime and people had been moving around we could easily have lost people because nothing could have stood in the way of that.

“If it could take a Land Rover and trailer it would have made mincemeat of anyone who got in its way.”

More photos of Wednesday’s flooding and peatslides are at: Live: Heavy rain closes roads