'It's been 12 days of hell,' says Northumberland man after Storm Arwen power cuts

Tony Tomlinson with his band NightPorter.Tony Tomlinson with his band NightPorter.
Tony Tomlinson with his band NightPorter.
A Northumberland man has spoken of the ‘12 days of hell’ he has endured since Storm Arwen.

Like thousands of others around the county, Tony Tomlinson suffered a power cut at his Red Row home after gales of close to 100mph damaged power lines on November 26.

However, a series of setbacks has seen the 57-year-old and his partner, Michael, suffering in the cold for much of the time since.

"We have been to hell and back,” said Tony.

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The pair, who live on a farmstead, began to feel worried about their situation when power started returning to Widdrington and the surrounding area at the end of the weekend.

"We’d gone to my mum’s in Bedlington to get warm and recharge our phones but when we came back and saw our home in darkness we realised it could be like that for a long time. We had no heat, no light, no hot water and no way of cooking for four days.”

They bought a £130 gas fire on Tuesday but then became aware of the dangers of using it without ventilation.

With nowhere else to stay and limited funds they were forced to stay at home in the cold.

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All week they tried to contact Northern Powergrid by phone, email and via its website without success.

“It was beyond a joke,” said Tony. “It was seven days before we actually got to speak to someone.”

They were offered alternative accommodation but with a 14-year-old dog in tow, this proved difficult to arrange.

"We ended up staying in a caravan at Percy Wood on Friday and Saturday night,” said Tony.

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Although they knew the £150 a night cost could be reclaimed, they could not afford to stay longer.

"The electricity and heating in the caravan pulled us back from the brink of disaster,” said Tony.

Fortunately, a friend in Seaton Delaval allowed then to stay at their home on Sunday.

A generator was finally installed at 4pm on Monday but the central heating failed and they had to wait a further 24 hours for a Scottish Power engineer to carry out repairs.

"We had 35 minutes of heat and then the power went off again when Storm Barra hit,” said Tony. "It’s been 12 days of hell.”