Residents ‘frustrated and angry’ after a week without power

Thousands of customers are still off supply seven days after Storm Arwen.

Lottie Kilraine
Friday 03 December 2021 16:26
The Army has been called in to help residents left without power following Storm Arwen one week ago (Danny Lawson/PA)
The Army has been called in to help residents left without power following Storm Arwen one week ago (Danny Lawson/PA)

Residents have said they are feeling “frustrated and angry” after being left without power for a week following Storm Arwen

One man in County Durham told how he is using his dog as a hot water bottle, while others said they are becoming ill after days with no heating.

Around 10,500 people are still without power in some parts of north-east Scotland and the North of England after Storm Arwen swept across the country on Friday November 26.

The storm has been described as the worst in 20 years by Red Cross teams supporting those affected.

Jessica Teasdale, from Stanley in County Durham, told the PA news agency: “People are frustrated and angry… everyone is getting ill.

“I saw my elderly neighbour yesterday, the poor man looked like he was going to cry. He’s a vulnerable person but no-one has checked on him and he lives alone.

I have never been so cold in all my life

Helen Shand, Aberdeenshire resident

“They keep changing the dates of when the power will be put on, but it’s giving people false hope… now they are saying Sunday, but how do they expect us to live like this until then?”

Her partner Christopher Bertram added: “I am sitting looking at Jessica now and she is a wreck. She hasn’t slept or washed properly for a week. She’s like a shell of a person. It is awful to watch.

“I’m using my dog as a hot water bottle.”

Meanwhile, a couple in Northumberland left without power for a week accused Northern Powergrid of “fobbing off” residents in their handling of the crisis.

Stewart Sexton said he and his partner have been without heating, hot water, lighting or any means of communication since their home lost power at 7.50pm last Friday.

Speaking to PA from his car in Alnwick where he drove to from his nearby home to get phone signal, the 57-year-old said: “No-one gives a toss about us in Northumberland. First contact from Northern Powergrid was day six (Thursday).

Christopher Bertram and his partner Jessica Teasdale at their home in Stanley, County Durham (Danny Lawson/PA)

“They gave no info except praising themselves and saying we can claim some expenses if we have receipts… after six days with candles, some takeaways, extra logs for wood burner, I have no receipts. Who would?

“Every day this week they say it will be on tomorrow. They say they are making estimates but it’s not, it’s a generic fob off.”

Northern Powergrid has been contacted for comment.

North of the border, around 1,600 Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) customers remained off supply on Friday morning.

Bill Easton, who lives in Inchmarlo, Aberdeenshire, said he keeps getting updates which tell him power will return imminently, only for them to be wrong.

He said: “The reality is it was pretty catastrophic what happened.

Soldiers have been deployed to help in affected areas (Danny Lawson/PA)

“It was cold. I kept getting deadlines that went on. I’d rather them tell the truth and say it was out of service rather than ‘coming on at 12’, then not coming on.”

He has a small camping stove he can use for cooking.

“It’s something you take for granted,” he said, adding it is “second nature” to flick a switch and expect the lights to turn on.

Helen Shand, also in Inchmarlo, was left without electricity for days before making the decision to go to her son’s house in a nearby village.

She said: “It was miserable. I have never been so cold in all my life, even the dog was cold.”

She said when she rang 105, the number to call when there is no power, it was “just a reassuring message saying they were doing as much as they could”.

Matthew Killick, crisis response and community resilience director with the British Red Cross, said: “It’s been an extremely challenging week. Our teams on the ground are saying this is the worst storm in 20 years.

“Many families are still having to contend with freezing temperatures with no power. Our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly alongside local authorities, the emergency services and the voluntary sector to keep people safe, checking on vulnerable people and distributing water, hot water, food, torches and blankets.

“If you’ve been affected by Storm Arwen you can contact the British Red Cross support line on 0808 196 3651. You can also find other useful information on our website redcross.org.uk.”

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