Homes cut off as power lines crash

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The Independent Online

At least 400,000 homes had their electricity cut off by last night's storm and repair teams have struggled since to restore power. Winds brought trees crashing over power lines, and floods also disrupted supplies in some parts of the country.

At least 400,000 homes had their electricity cut off by last night's storm and repair teams have struggled since to restore power. Winds brought trees crashing over power lines, and floods also disrupted supplies in some parts of the country.

The electricity companies said they were prepared for more problems as the gales continue. Yorkshire, the South-east and Wales were worst hit. Although power had been restored to many homes by last night, others may have to wait another day or two for faults to be repaired.

Yorkshire Power said about130,000 customers were cut off at the height of the storm. Seeboard, which covers Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and part of West Sussex, said 50,000 customers had been cut off. Southern Electric, which supplies 2.7 million homes, said it too had had 50,000 customers cut off. The company's emergency hotlines were swamped yesterday by fault reports.

In Wales the winds left about 38,000 homes without electricity in the Swansea and the South Wales valleys alone, with many more cut off elsewhere. A power line brought down by winds gusting at over 80 mph fell on a school at Llantrisant, in mid Glamorgan. The school was closed for safety checks.

London Electricity, which has its cables underground, reported no problems, and there were no cuts in Scotland.

Repair teams have been working since last night to mend broken cables. Seeboard said it was prioritising calls, attending first where roads were blocked and where cables were a threat to public safety. Claire Byrd, a spokeswoman, said the storms had damaged at least 70 high-voltage lines. By late afternoon yesterday power had been restored to 26,500 customers, but she could not say how long it would take to get all customers back on line.

Yorkshire Power said 12,000 of its customers were awaiting reconnection late yesterday. Southern Electric said it had restored power to 20,000 homes but about 30,000 may not be reconnected until today at the earliest.

A spokesman for Southern Electric, Bob Major, said: "It's still pretty grim. A lot of the problems are in rural areas where the lines are more exposed, and a lot of it has been caused by trees and flying debris. We had anticipated this and had engineers strategically placed around the area."

"There's another low pressure weather system coming on at the moment, so teams will be on stand-by all night."

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