Storm Arwen: homes in north of England without power for third night

Photograph: WittWooPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Tens of thousands of homes in the north of England had a third night without power after Storm Arwen wreaked havoc, bringing down trees and electricity lines across the UK.

Parts of northern England had their coldest night of autumn so far with temperatures plummeting to below zero. The Met Office said Shap in Cumbria, north-west England, recorded the lowest temperature of the season so far at minus 8.7C (16.34F).

Bridlington in east Yorkshire, meanwhile, recorded high levels of rainfall, with 14.6mm of rain overnight on Sunday.

The electricity network operator Northern Powergrid said the storm had caused the most extensive damage to the network in 20 years, initially leaving 240,000 households across north-east England, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire without power.

Helicopters were deployed and 100 extra engineers drafted in to help with repairs. By Monday, 29,000 households were still without power.

One badly affected area was north Northumberland. Mark Mather, who represents the market town of Wooler on Northumberland county council, said most households still had no electricity. Some also had no water.

“We are under a lot of pressure here and we’re very concerned about older people. The other concern is that a lot of the phone signal is down so a lot of people are going to struggle to call for help.”

Mather said he was very proud of the community response. The Angel Inn pub had become a refuge centre and had managed, with a generator, to give hot soup to more than 250 people on Sunday. Bottled water was being given out at the town’s middle school. Volunteers did their best to get hot drinks to people who struggled to leave their houses.

“The majority of the main roads are now open but there are still some homes totally isolated because of fallen trees. That’s my big concern, that we miss somebody in the more rural areas who will have had no heating, no electric, potentially no water if they’re being serviced off private wells and they can’t make a call for help. I’m worried.

“This is day three. Three nights without electric. It is a potential disaster.”

Police, fire crews, mountain rescue and the British Red Cross helped to support the most vulnerable members of communities.

Northern Powergrid said the scale of the damage in some locations was so extensive that large sections of overhead cables needed to be rebuilt to restore supplies.

Rod Gardner, Northern Powergrid’s major incident manager, said: “Intelligence from our helicopter inspections has illustrated the scale of impact on our network. The impact from Storm Arwen has been one of the worst we’ve experienced in the last 20 years.”

Electricity Northwest said the storm led to 92,000 properties being without power. By Monday, it had been restored to 81,000 properties.

Overhead lines teams from the southeast of England the Isle of Man had been drafted in to help with the effort.

Incident manager Clive Wilkinson said engineers were doing all they could. He said: “Customers have been very understanding so far as they know the massive impact that we are dealing with. We know it is difficult and we will get to you so please keep warm and keep checking on neighbours until we can restore power.”

The clean-up operation after Friday’s storm continued across northern England, hampered by treacherous road conditions.

Three people died in the storm, which brought gusts of up to 98mph. A headteacher in Northern Ireland died after a tree fell on his car, another man was hit by a falling tree in Cumbria, and a third died after his car was hit in Aberdeenshire.

Even Saturday night television was affected by the storm with I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here cancelled after significant damage to the Welsh castle where the show is filmed. Hosts Ant and Dec tweeted an update on Sunday evening saying the production team was working round the clock “to get us back on your tellies ASAP.”

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