A long wait for couple to be back home

A Lowick couple are facing a further wait of at least six months before they can move back into their home following the damage by Storm Arwen.

By Andrew Coulson
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 8:30 am
Workers at the site of the home in Lowick.
Workers at the site of the home in Lowick.

Ged and Paula Thomas lost power at about 7pm on November 26 last year and then an hour later, a tree near the property was ripped up from its roots and fell against the house.

There was significant damage to the roof, house structure, windows in the front of three rooms, cast iron guttering and fall pipes, front right gable end and the surrounding stone wall of the property.

With a review into the response to the storm underway, Ged has given his views on the response and has said that the level of support from their local MP and local authorities was “next to nothing”.

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Ged and Paula Thomas.

Paula, a midwife in Berwick, and Ged, who has worked as a teacher after working in various professions, had been living in the house since October 2000. They have two adult children, daughter Jenny and son Peter.

They initially struggled to get temporary accommodation and they have stayed at a few different places for short periods of time, including with family over Christmas rather than hosting others as they usually do.

The situation has improved as since the new year they have been able to stay in small accommodation in the village near their house. However, Ged said they may need to find somewhere else from March onwards.

He added: “We've been to the house to meet with various people, including a building surveyor so they can price up the stripping out works. We're also going through the tender process for the reinstatement works.

The tree was ripped up from its roots.

“If everything goes well, the date we have been given to move back into our home is the end of July or early August.

“But we are naturally concerned that if there’s any delays or slippage with the works, you then get to the autumn or even the Christmas period.”

The Northumberland County Council led review is expected to publish its various findings in the coming months.

Ged said: “The support from residents' groups and some of the county councillors in the area was invaluable, but there was next to nothing from other councillors, our MP (Anne-Marie Trevelyan) and formal institutions such as the county council and Lowick Parish Council.

“I appreciate the storm was a one-in-100 year event, but apart from those who were proactive in their communities it seemed that the people who were affected were viewed as private citizens who were left to get on with things as best as they could.

“When I was speaking to someone from Scottish Power over the phone, it was clear that they only had general information about when the power was off rather than specific timings.

“So an important thing that needs to come out of this is putting in the necessary investment so the power systems in rural areas are robust and accurate and of the same standard as those in cities and towns.”