Storm Barra: Northern Powergrid aims to reconnect final homeson December 6, 2021 at 2:29 pm

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Northern Powergrid says the last 1,300 homes should be reconnected before Storm Barra arrives.

Workers repair electricity lines

Image source, Electricity North West

The energy firm for the north-east of England says it hopes to restore power to homes which have been cut off for 10 days before a new storm on Tuesday.

Northern Powergrid said 1,300 homes are still without power after Storm Arwen brought winds of up to 98mph and caused widespread damage on 26 November.

The company aims to complete repairs by Tuesday, when Storm Barra will bring yellow warnings for wind and snow.

A spokeswoman apologised for the “difficulty and disruption”.

She said work on Sunday had been affected by poor weather but 2,300 homes across County Durham and Northumberland had power restored on Saturday.

In Cumbria, Electricity North West said “nobody was without power” overnight on Sunday, while in Scotland, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks said power had been restored to all 135,000 of its affected customers by Sunday evening.

The Met Office said Storm Barra, the second named storm of the season, would bring wind and snow to the UK mainland on Tuesday morning.

Stewart Sexton, who lives in Alnwick, Northumberland said he was exhausted by the wait for his power to be restored.

“It’s wearing us down, and it’s a constant worry. Every day seems to bring a new problem.”

Mr Sexton said he had also been hit by floods which, coupled with a house with no heating, made for an “awful” situation.

He said he had been showering with water heated on a wood-burning stove in his living room, and travelling 12 miles to his sister’s home.

“We have not got any hope at all,” Stewart said, adding: “It’s awful, it’s the futility of it.”

Anna Elson, 49, also from Alnwick, she is travelling to a family member’s home with her 13-year-old son to avoid spending an 11th night without heating.

“The village was left to cope on its own for too long, there are a few medically vulnerable residents here, including me,” she said.

Ms Elson and her son have rheumatoid arthritis, which is worsened by the cold.

“No phone signal doesn’t help and makes us feel more vulnerable. Help has started to come but people feel it should have been a lot sooner.

“We are fed up and angry at the lack of response we have had,” she added.

Northern Powergrid said it “remained hopeful” all repairs would be completed “on Monday or Tuesday”.

A spokeswoman said: “This progress is dependent on us getting some decent weather, not uncovering significant amounts of additional damage on our network and the ongoing fantastic support we are getting from other companies around the country.”

Kwasi Kwarteng speaks to engineers

Image source, Northern Powergrid

The power supplier also said new outages in the area around Rothbury, Northumberland, on Sunday were not a recurrence of Storm Arwen damage and were quickly fixed.

“It’s not unusual for power cuts to happen in blizzards and we had teams in the area ready and able to respond quickly,” it said.

About 300 generators have been installed across the North East, as well as major repairs to overhead networks, after more than 240,000 properties were hit by cuts when Storm Arwen brought down trees and power lines.

“The teams in these areas have successfully completed in one week a major overhead line construction project that would normally take many weeks, and have done so in extremely challenging conditions,” the spokeswoman said.

“We do understand how challenging it is for our customers who are still without power at this time and we’re very sorry for the difficulty and disruption this storm has caused to their lives and the network that powers their communities.”

Helicopter carries new pole above countryside

Image source, Northern Powergrid

Paul Bircham from Electricity North West said the only properties left without power in Cumbria were empty holiday homes and discussions were continuing with owners to arrange access to reconnect them.

He told BBC Radio Cumbria: “Nobody was without power overnight.”

Mr Bircham said customers may experience short cuts of a few minutes over the coming days as supply is switched back from generators to the main network.

He said the lengthy outages had been caused by the “massive amount of rebuilding work”.

“We have had more than 900 incidents of damage, many of them extremely severe.”

Mr Bircham said “whole stretches” of line had to be removed, trees cleared, poles replanted and lines re-strung and tensioned.

Workers cut away fallen tree

Image source, PA Media

“The amount of tree-fall resulting from the wind was highly unusual,” Mr Bircham said, adding: “That’s been one of the main reasons for the significant amount of damage to the network.”

He said “wherever possible” trees were being cut away from the lines, but that had to be negotiated with landowners.

Mr Bircham said he was “really disappointed” by the length of the power outages, adding: “We are really sorry.”

Speaking on the 11th day of the outages, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government needed to “put pressure on those power companies”.

He said the main message needed to be “let’s get the power back on” and expressed concerns that it was “only December”, with more cold, wet and potentially stormy winter months yet to come.

Soldier talks to resident on doorstep

Image source, PA Media

On a visit to County Durham on Sunday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the lengthy outages were “totally unacceptable” and the performance of power firms before and during the cuts would be reviewed, with enforcement action available if failures were found.

A £700 cap on compensation has been lifted allowing all those affected to claim £70 for each 12-hour period they are left without power – after an initial £70 for the first 48 hours.

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