Storm Arwen fallout: soldiers arrive to help Scottish communities

About 19,500 homes in UK still without power six days after winds caused damage and disruption

Military personnel have arrived in Aberdeenshire to assist with welfare checks on remote communities still affected by Storm Arwen, as Downing Street confirmed that across the UK about 19,500 homes remained without power six days after high winds caused damage and disruption.

About 120 personnel will be deployed to 12 locations across Aberdeenshire, going door to door in communities that have lost power and water.

Aberdeenshire council said that following a formal approach to the UK government, military personnel would be supporting “ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen”.

The deployment comes comes as wintry showers fell across the north and east of the UK, with more snow expected to hit Scotland on Friday before moving across towards the south-east. These snow flurries have added to the painstaking task of repairing overhead cables snapped by falling trees and branches.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks confirmed on Thursday that there were 3,100 homes without power in Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and Perthshire and that it was hoping to restore power to 1,500 homes by the end of the day. The power company has described the storm damage as a “once in a generation event”.

For low voltage areas, including individual homes and groups of properties, the company said “extensive damage” had taken place, and it was hoping to restore power to homes by Friday.

There are still pockets of disconnection in the Scottish Borders, where the council leader, Mark Rowley, said there had been a lack of communication from the power firm.

In the north of England, about 11,000 Northern Powergrid and “fewer than 3,000” Electricity North West customers, mostly in Cumbria, are still without power, where residents have criticised both companies for “woeful” communications.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said on Thursday that a further 7,949 homes had had power restored since Wednesday – meaning 98% of the 950,000 homes originally affected now had electricity – and that he expected most homes to have power restored by the end of the week.

“We are in hourly contact with network operators to reconnect power,” the spokesperson said. “We are working urgently to ensure welfare and shelter is provided to those households that need it.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, confirmed the Bellwin scheme, which gives local councils financial support from the Scottish government to deal with emergency incidents, had been activated.


Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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