A MULTIMILLION-pound flood alleviation scheme has saved hundreds of homes and businesses from damage before it is even completed, according to a local authority.

The £86 million project for Elgin and its £40m counterpart in Forres have been under way for several years and analysis of flow volumes in the Lossie and Findhorn rivers suggests the towns would have suffered extensive damage without the defences already in place.

In the event, only a very small number of properties in Elgin and Forres were affected by floodwater from either river earlier this week. Most damage that occurred was as a result of the sheer volume of rainwater that fell on Sunday night and Monday morning, when drainage systems were unable to cope.

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Moray Council leader Allan Wright said: "The rain gauge at Torwinny on the upper reaches of the River Lossie recorded much more intense rainfall in a much shorter period of time than both November 2002 and September 2009, when Elgin suffered severe flooding and damage to property. And yet not a single property within the compass of the flood scheme was affected."

l Two men, three children and their dog were rescued by a Royal Navy helicopter after spending the night in a bothy during storms.

The group were walking in Torridon in the north-west Highlands on Monday when their route was blocked by a river that had burst its banks. They were rescued by a Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Prestwick, South Ayrshire.