Power has been restored to 97% of people across the UK after Storm Arwen battered parts of the country – but 30,000 homes face a sixth day without electricity.
Damage to the power network from the extreme weather affected around one million homes and businesses, particularly in Scotland and the northeast of England.
Some houses – mainly single and rural homes – will not be reconnected until the end of the week, seven days after the devastating storm.
Three people were killed by falling trees as winds hit highs of 98mph in some parts.
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said teams have been trying to fix 4,500 individual sites, with some areas seeing “catastrophic” damage.
At one site, 100 poles had been snapped in half, with substations hit by fallen trees and airborne debris, and wires drowned.
Yesterday, 100 engineers were deployed from the south of England to the worst-hit areas and 12,000 homes were reconnected overnight.
Welfare centres and hot food have been provided, with the energy network companies working in partnership with local resilience forums, emergency services, local authorities and the British Red Cross.
Ross Easton, director at ENA – which represents companies operating the power networks – said: “Our focus is making sure people without power are looked after, with help from local resilience forums, and reconnected as quickly and safely as possible.
“In places, the electricity network has been flattened and we are working around the clock to get people back online.
“Network companies have continued to make progress overnight against some challenging conditions. 97% of homes have been reconnected so far. While this number is increasing all the time, the remaining 30,000 homes are in some of the worst-hit and often remote areas of the country.”
Customers still without power have been urged to make alternative arrangements for accommodation wherever possible, and network operators have said they will reimburse “reasonable expenses incurred”.
Helicopter and drone surveys have been used to identify the scale of the problem in remote areas.
The storm has been one of the “most damaging” in 20 years and is at least three times worse than the so-called Beast from the East, which hit the country in 2018, the ENA said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “extremely sympathetic to everybody who’s suffered these power outages”.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng updated the House of Commons on the situation on Wednesday afternoon.
He said there were “incredibly dedicated teams of engineers” working “all round the clock to restore the network”.
“I want to reassure people who are still without power, who are exhausted, who are worried and who are angry that we are all working incredibly hard to make sure that their normal conditions return,” Mr Kwarteng added.
Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband told MPs that “extreme weather events will sadly become all the more common in the future”.
“We cannot be this vulnerable in the future,” he said.
“There is real concern that some lessons haven’t been learnt and on this occasion we must face up to those lessons and learn them.”
The leader of Cumbria County Council, Stewart Young, urged local MPs to put pressure on the government to do more.
Meanwhile, Chris Burchell, managing director of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, apologised to customers.
He said: “The impact of Storm Arwen has caused catastrophic damage to the electricity network across the northeast of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation.”