Work continues to restore supplies to Northumberland customers still without power

Northern Powergrid teams are working to restore power to around 4,000 homes following Storm Malik.

Monday, 31st January 2022, 10:35 am

Gusts of 90mph hit parts of the North East on Saturday, affecting around 80,000 Northern Powergrid customers.

The impact has been much lower than Storm Arwen in November, primarily due to there being no ice and snow in this storm.

And Northern Powergrid is confident that, if it is not able to get everyone reconnected, only a small proportion will have to wait until Tuesday.

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A tree toppled during Storm Malik on Hillside Road, Rothbury. Picture: Jeff Reynalds

In Northumberland, the majority of customers affected have been in the north and south-west of the county. The Kielder and Bellingham area was particularly affected, with further pockets of outage across the county including around Rothbury, Wooler, Shilbottle and Longhoughton.

Schools closed on Monday due to the impact of the storm are: Swarland Primary, Branton Primary, Broomhill First and Kielder Primary.

Additional resources have already been moved into the North East from other operating areas and from parts of the country which have not been hit as hard by the storm through the industry mutual aid agreement.

Northern Powergrid director, Paul Glendinning, said: “We are within sight of the end. But we still have a lot to do to get the last 4,000 customers reconnected having confirmed that around 200 damage points remain. Restoring these smaller incidents reconnects only a small number of customers for each job.”

Andy Bilclough, director of field operations, said: “Our team is ready to go and we’ve cancelled all the planned work in the rest of the company to release more resources.

"Other than the inevitable few surprises that always get uncovered at the end of a storm restoration, we have the work planned out for them. We are shooting to get it all done today – we know how difficult it is for our customers to be without power for three days.”

Two key lessons learned from Storm Arwen have been implemented. Firstly, a website queuing system was switched on which remained stable right through the peak of the event and customers were able to log power cuts at all times. Secondly, they disabled the automatic text message updates early in the storm to avoid sending the automatically generated estimates that serve us well in business as usual but not during storms.

Northumberland County Council and Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service have been working alongside Northern Powergrid, Northumbria Police and local communities to co-ordinate efforts to ensure public safety and that the county’s most vulnerable residents are cared for.

Residents are encouraged to look in on their neighbours and if anyone has a concern about a vulnerable resident or a safeguarding issue, they should ring Onecall: 01670 536400

The Jubilee Hall in Rothbury opened as a community hub and Northern Powergrid customer support vehicles have been deployed at Kielder and Powburn. These have microwaves and charging points and are offering coffee and snacks. Hot food will also be available on South Road, Wooler if the power supply in the area remains down.

Council interim executive director, Maureen Taylor, said: “This has been a real team effort, but I must thank the people of Northumberland who have yet again come together to look after each other in what has been a challenging time.

“The fire service, council staff and Northern Powergrid have been working around the clock, as have lots of other agencies.

“We know there are still a lot of people without power and this number is reducing. We will continue to offer support, working alongside the power company as it works to restore services.”