FLOOD defence workers have been praised after their all-night vigils helped save Bannerfield.

Staff from contractors RJ McLeod spent much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday reacting to rising floodwaters around the Selkirk estate.

And it is widely accepted that their running programme of channel digging, embankment building and repairs saved hundreds of houses from flood damage.

Conor Price, Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme project manager, told the Border Telegraph: “I am extremely proud of the work of staff on the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme throughout the extreme weather which hit the town and the Borders last week.

“Our team worked day and night to ensure the town was protected from Thursday through to Sunday, and I thank them for all their efforts.”

Hundreds of low lying properties were flooded in Selkirk during the deluge of 2003.

Just a year later the Long Philip Burn brought further flood chaos to residents around Philiphaugh and Bannerfield.

Although the £31.4 million Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme is only half built, the defences prevented similar scenes over the weekend.

Mr Price added: "We estimate that on Thursday evening there was almost twice the amount of water in the Long Philip Burn compared with the capacity of the burn before the scheme’s construction commenced.

"At this level, some properties in the Bannerfield came close to flooding, however the flood scheme’s operatives were on hand to dig a channel and divert water away from the properties at Philip View.

"The completed scheme will increase the channel capacity over twice as much again.

“On Friday and Saturday night the flood risk was from the Ettrick Water and again the partially complete scheme defences held firm and ensured that there was no real risk of flooding to the properties at Ettrickhaugh Road, Bannerfield and Riverside.

"The scheme’s team temporarily closed gaps in the new Riverside walls on Friday, and constructed around 100 metres of temporary earth embankment at a low point adjacent to Murray Place on Saturday afternoon.

“At St Mary’s Loch, the new Intelligent Water Management System which has been operational since the end of September functioned as intended. It helped reduced the flood risk through Selkirk and at Lindean."

Selkirk's risk was upgraded to a Flood Warning by the Scottish Environmental Agency on Saturday as Storm Desmond struck the region.

Many householders in and around Bannerfield built up sandbag defences at their doors.

But the work of the contractors made sure little, if any, water made it to the doorsteps.

Ian Stephen, who lives close to the Ettrick, said: "The workmen were there in their diggers all weekend.

"I would hate to think what it would have been like if the flood defences hadn't started."

Volunteers from Elliot Henderson Ltd contractors also helped with digging equipment throughout Friday and Saturday to protect the town's rugby club, which has twice been flooded in the past 12 years.

Local councillor Vicky Davidson was full of praise for the efforts. She said: "I walked round Bannerfield on Saturday and saw for myself the work which had been ongoing.

"This was a huge flood event, as we've seen in Hawick, with every bit as much water as either 2003 or 2004.

"I am very impressed by all of the council flood team, who were out all weekend, as well as the staff from RJ Mcleod and Elliot Henderson."

When the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme is completed it will provide protection to 595 properties in Selkirk against similar events.