Storm Arwen power repairs could take until New Year
Damage to power supply lines caused by Storm Arwen might not be fixed until the New Year, county bosses have warned.
Thousands of homes across the North East are still waiting to have their power supplies reconnected, a week after the region was battered by severe weather.
And it has been hinted that it could be a month or more before families can get back to normal, such has been the extent of the destruction wrought by the event.
“We’re working closely with Northern Powergrid (NPG) at the moment and it looks like their response activities will be taking place right through to the New Year,” said Rob Murfin, director of planning at Northumberland County Council (NCC).
“We are now moving into what I would call the immediate aftermath of the emergency.
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“Now, when waste collection vehicles are going around places, they will check for vulnerable people, and we are working with the police, the post office, a wide range of bodies, to check that we are picking and identifying issues.
“The problem with this incident, which has overwhelmed NPG, I think it’s fair to say, is that their systems didn’t quickly enable them to understand the extent of the number of problems experienced – we’ve been very active in bringing their attention to the problems.”
Murfin was speaking at the most recent meeting of NCC’s Communities and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which suggested a review of the response to Storm Arwen could be held next year.
A major incident has now been followed by Northumberland, where 3,827 homes remain without power as a result of the storm, according to the latest count.
This followed on the heels of a similar announcement for County Durham, where the army has been drafted in to carry out door to door checks on families in Weardale.
According to Northern Powergrid, which covers an area spanning the Scottish border down to Humberside, power has been restored to 97 per cent of customers affected as a result of last week’s severe weather – about 234,000 households.
The firm has confirmed to Hexham MP Guy Opperman it will pay up to £15 per person per meal for those without power, as well as “reasonable costs” of alternative accommodation for customers.
It has also promised to help vulnerable customers book accommodation, while some customers could be in line for extra compensation, depending on how long they have been without power.
Daljit Lally, chief executive at NCC, said: “We are extremely concerned for those residents in our communities who continue to be without power and in some cases water as well.
“While all agencies have and continue to work together to assist those affected in our communities and are doing all they can, we need more support.
“The damage caused to some power lines is devastating and we do not know how long this will continue for – the welfare of our residents is our utmost priority.”
Northern Powergrid has been contacted for comment on when it expects repairs to power supply infrastructure to be complete.