Calls for all care homes in Northumberland to have generators after Storm Arwen

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Councillors have called on care homes in Northumberland to install back-up generators after dozens were left without power following Storm Arwen.

As part of a wide-ranging and ongoing review into the storm of November 2021 that caused chaos across the region, Northumberland County Council has been looking into the impact in care homes.

At a meeting of the council’s communities and place overview and scrutiny committee, service development manager Alan Curry explained: “There are 71 care homes in Northumberland and many were affected by Storm Arwen. One in Choppington was significantly affected and was on a generator for several days, while others also lost power.

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“We have encouraged care homes to access their own generators where they can. Where they are not able to do so we have asked them to come up with alternative steps in case of a similar situation.

There have been calls for care homes to be equipped with generators.There have been calls for care homes to be equipped with generators.
There have been calls for care homes to be equipped with generators.

“We are happy with the plans provided by all but one care home and we’re working to bring them up to speed. Generators is one response in worst-case scenarios, but we also have plans to look at things like evacuations.

“There are arrangements between care homes to share residents. We would want to see transport arrangements in those situations.”

However, some councillors felt that every care home should have a generator in place to provide back-up power in case residents could not be moved.

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Coun Richard Dodd said: “Some are dragging their feet over generators. I just wonder if we need to say that’s a minimum – I think that needs to be looked at.

“For us as a county council, we’re going to come into these storms more frequently. I’m no expert in generators but I have three – the biggest was £4,500 but will power the entire house and more besides.

“The smallest was about £320 and will power all the lights. I really think we need a policy on this.

“If it was snowy, we can’t move anybody anywhere. I really think we need to push the point, it’s not hugely expensive.”

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Coun Gordon Castle added: “Heavy snow would make it impossible for evacuation.”

Mr Curry pointed out that many care homes are in more urban areas which would make evacuation easier in snowy weather. He added that some care homes would not have the resources to fund generators.