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Storm Arwen: Disabled woman thought she would die due to ‘bitter cold’ as 10,000 homes remain without power

A disabled woman has said she “didn’t think she would survive” because it was so “bitterly cold” after her power was knocked out by Storm Arwen.

Helen Brunton, who lives in Morpeth, Northumberland, is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who had no electricity due to damage caused to power networks.

Her power has now been restored, but more than 10,000 homes across the UK are still without electricity due to the “catastrophic damage” caused by Storm Arwen a week ago.

Ms Brunton, who depends on electricity for support with her disability, told Sky News: “I didn’t think I was going to survive, a few nights lying in bed, I actually thought I wouldn’t make it, it was so cold.

“There was two nights where it was so bitterly cold.”

She continued: “I’m totally dependent on electricity. I have an electric hoist to get me on and off the toilet. I have an electric wheelchair.”

Ms Brunton also said Northumberland has been “totally forgotten about”, and added: “Could you imagine 30,000 homes being (without power) in London? And that they don’t declare it an emergency when they knew they couldn’t get it back on.”

Jude Leitch, who owns the Old Rectory Howick bed and breakfast in Northumberland, said: “We’ve just come through the pandemic as a business, with the (financial) hits that gave us.

“We had visitors in with us that had to leave, we’ve guests that we’ve had to contact and tell them not to come.

“We do evening meals as well, so we’ve lost all of that income, we’re not that rural here and we’re now coming into our seventh day, eighth day, without power, and there’s no indication of when it will be back on again.”

Residents in other parts of the country have also said they are feeling “frustrated and angry” after being left without power for a week following Storm Arwen.

Christopher Bertram, from 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.

Mr Bertram’s partner Jessica Teasdale said: “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.

“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?”

It comes as the energy regulator Ofgem has launched an “urgent” review into the response of energy network companies to the storm.

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

Around 10,500 properties remain without electricity across the UK, but 99% of homes have now had their power restored, according to the latest figures from the Energy Networks Association.

Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, said 5,100 customers remained off supply as of 10pm on Friday.

They added power has now been restored to 234,900 customers.

In Durham, the county council has said around 100 servicemen and women will be based in Weardale to help local people.

It said the military help follows a request from County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum for additional resources.

In Scotland, parts of which have been particularly badly hit by Storm Arwen, a total of 950 Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) customers remained without power as of 9pm on Friday.

Power has been restored to more than 130,000 SSEN customers since Arwen first struck, causing what managing director Chris Burchell described as “catastrophic damage to the electricity network”.



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