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Out in the COLD! 30,000 homes spend FIFTH night without power in wake of Storm Arwen

Desperate residents have been left without power for a fifth night after Storm Arwen battered homes across the north of England and Scotland.

About 30,000 homes were still cut off from the grid this morning following ferocious gales, rain and snow that tore through infrastructure last week.

It will be at least the end of the week – seven days after the devastating storm – before electricity is restored to some, the Energy Networks Association warned today.

It comes as the Met Office issued a two-day ice warning and said there could be more snow and sub-zero weather on the way.

Meteorologists put out the hazard update for tonight and tomorrow morning covering northern Scotland and the North East of England.

Meanwhile National Trust staff were left in tears after Storm Arwen brought down thousands of trees, including ‘irreplaceable’ specimens.

The conservation charity said the full extent of the damage caused by the storm was still being assessed, but restoration was likely to cost at least £3million.

The National Trust shared an image of a fallen tree at Cragside in Northumberland. The National Trust said the full extent of the damage caused by Storm Arwen was still being assessed, but restoration was likely to cost at least £3million

About 30,000 houses were still cut off from the grid across the region following ferocious gales, rain and snow that tore through infrastructure last week. Pictured: A fallen tree at Ullswater in the Lake District

About 30,000 houses were still cut off from the grid across the region following ferocious gales, rain and snow that tore through infrastructure last week. Pictured: A fallen tree at Ullswater in the Lake District

It will be at least the end of the week - seven days after the devastating storm - before electricity is restored to some, the Energy Networks Association warned (pictured, working overnight to repair power lines)

It will be at least the end of the week – seven days after the devastating storm – before electricity is restored to some, the Energy Networks Association warned (pictured, working overnight to repair power lines)

It comes as the Met Office issued a two-day ice warning and said there could be more snow and sub-zero weather on the way. Pictured: Roker lighthouse in Sunderland is engulfed by huge waves crashing in from the North Sea on Wednesday

It comes as the Met Office issued a two-day ice warning and said there could be more snow and sub-zero weather on the way. Pictured: Roker lighthouse in Sunderland is engulfed by huge waves crashing in from the North Sea on Wednesday

 Engineers reconnected 97 per cent of homes affected by the power cuts, with the majority of those still affected living in remote locations where access for crews is difficult, the ENA said.

Overnight, power was restored to a further 12,000 homes, the organisation said, and it has been working at 4,500 damage sites.

ENA director Ross Easton said: ‘Network companies have continued to make progress overnight against some challenging conditions. Ninety-seven percent 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.’

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.

Some homes – mainly single, rural houses or groups of houses – will not be reconnected until at least the end of the week. Engineers from across the UK have been sent to the worst-affected areas.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng revealed today an emergency power cut phone number did face ‘initial pressure’ with ‘unacceptable’ delays in the wake of Storm Arwen.

Responding to questions from Ed Miliband, Mr Kwarteng said: ‘We do have the 105 line which is the one number that people are being asked to call. It has been centralised.

‘I think he is quite right to say there was initial pressure, from my understanding that was over the weekend, it took people up to two hours to get through which was clearly unacceptable but, of course, the storm hit and the energy companies didn’t have the communication networks, the call centres, the people there to deal with the situation.’

He added: ‘Certainly today when I spoke with the CEOs of the companies, that waiting time had been reduced to ten minutes to a quarter of an hour.’

On sharing information about where engineers were needed most, Mr Kwarteng said: ‘I will have more calls today with local resilience leaders to make sure that what the generator companies are saying is actually matched what people are experiencing on the ground. There can obviously, as he knows, be a mismatch between the two.’

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said ‘at least 7,000 homes’ in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency have been without power for between three and five nights, and pressed for the army to assist engineers.

He told the Commons: ‘Thousands are still without power in my communities and elsewhere in Cumbria, and they feel forgotten. They’re not by many of us here, I hope.’

Mr Farron said some have been told they will not have their connection fixed until December 8, adding: ‘Will he today task the Army to provide the support for the engineers on the ground in Cumbria to speed up fixing the problem?

‘Will he then use the Army as well to ensure the most vulnerable are contacted and moved into emergency accommodation today?’

He pressed for every affected community in Cumbria to receive generators, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng noting 150 generators have so far been provided by Electricity North West.

Mr Kwarteng added: ‘I will be tasking them to see what more can be done to alleviate the extreme stress and challenging situation that many of his constituents are facing.’

Engineers reconnected 97 per cent of homes affected by the power cuts, with the majority of those still affected living in remote locations where access for crews is difficult, the ENA (pictured, its workers) said

Engineers reconnected 97 per cent of homes affected by the power cuts, with the majority of those still affected living in remote locations where access for crews is difficult, the ENA (pictured, its workers) said

Overnight, power was restored to a further 12,000 homes, the organisation (pictured, its workers last night) said, and it has been working at 4,500 damage sites

Overnight, power was restored to a further 12,000 homes, the organisation (pictured, its workers last night) said, and it has been working at 4,500 damage sites

Roker lighthouse in Sunderland was battered by fierce waves on Wednesday amid the strong winds caused by Storm Arwen

Roker lighthouse in Sunderland was battered by fierce waves on Wednesday amid the strong winds caused by Storm Arwen

Downing Street said properties affected by power cuts caused by Storm Arwen should have supply restored ‘by the end of the week’.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I think the focus currently is on restoring power to the thousands of homes which are still without it.

‘The Business Secretary has taken a lead on this, as you would expect, and has already had discussions with the chief executive of Northern Powergrid.

‘We are expecting the majority of homes to have their power restored by the end of the week.’

The leader of Cumbria County Council, Stewart Young, urged local MPs to put pressure on the Government to do more.

He said: ‘We are grateful to all engineers and staff working for Electricity North West who are working hard to repair significant damage across the network.

‘Despite their efforts and working around the clock, thousands of homes and businesses have now been without electricity for six days. People are struggling to keep warm and this ongoing power outage is putting lives at risk.’

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 north-east of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation.’

It comes after Northern Powergrid denied claims by Conservative MP Richard Holden North West Durham it declined an offer of military assistance as thousands remain without power due to Storm Arwen.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the North West Durham MP said: ‘My understanding is that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy offered military aid to the civil authorities – MACA – this weekend, but that Northern Powergrid refused it.’

A Northern Powergrid spokesman said that ‘no offer of military assistance was made and, therefore, no refusal given’. The spokesman added: ‘Early on Saturday morning, we participated in an industry mutual aid call.

‘Through this voluntary arrangement, we have utilised specialist engineering resources and equipment from UK Power Networks, Northern Ireland Electricity and National Grid Transmission, with their teams helping us restore power to customers after the impact of Storm Arwen.’

‘We have a well established and practised protocol of participating in Local Resilience Forums during major incidents and this is the process where such a request would usually be made or assistance offered. We have made due checks and can confirm that no offer was made or refused.’

Seaburn promendade in Sunderland is pounded by high waves this afternoon as high tides and flood water causing flood alerts in the North East

Seaburn promendade in Sunderland is pounded by high waves this afternoon as high tides and flood water causing flood alerts in the North East

Roker lighthouse in Sunderland is engulfed by huge waves crashing in from the North Sea on Wednesday, the same day that the Met Office issued more weather warnings, saying there will be ice across the north of Scotland and North East of England

Roker lighthouse in Sunderland is engulfed by huge waves crashing in from the North Sea on Wednesday, the same day that the Met Office issued more weather warnings, saying there will be ice across the north of Scotland and North East of England

The Met Office issued another blast of weather warnings on Wednesday morning, saying there will be dangerous ice across the north of Scotland and North East of England over the next two days.

Meteorologists said after a cooler day on Wednesday, it will again turn cold with ice covering roads and pavements.

They said there will be some injuries from slips and falls, ‘probably some icy patches on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths’ and some roads and railways likely to be affected by ice and perhaps snow.

Temperatures will dip to as low as -3C across parts of central Scotland from tonight while most of England will see the mercury steady at 1-2C.

Meanwhile the National Trust said gale force winds from Storm Arwen brought down thousands of trees, including ‘irreplaceable’ specimens.

The conservation charity said the full extent of the damage caused by the storm was still being assessed, but restoration was likely to cost at least £3million.

More than 50 trees were uprooted at the Trust’s Bodnant Garden in North Wales, including a 51-metre tall ‘champion’ coast redwood, as well as many hybrid rhododendrons that are unique to the property, it said.

The devastation left staff in tears and the clear-up is expected to take several months.

The National Trust shared another image of a fallen tree at Wray Castle in the Lake District, which has snapped off its stump during the ferocious weather

The National Trust shared another image of a fallen tree at Wray Castle in the Lake District, which has snapped off its stump during the ferocious weather

Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said the storm had delivered a 'huge blow to British heritage' at Bodnant (pictured), taking down some of the most important and earliest specimen trees at the garden

Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said the storm had delivered a ‘huge blow to British heritage’ at Bodnant (pictured), taking down some of the most important and earliest specimen trees at the garden

The same tree at Bodnant is pictured in all its glory before it was felled by vicious weather from Storm Arwen over the last few days

The same tree at Bodnant is pictured in all its glory before it was felled by vicious weather from Storm Arwen over the last few days

Acting head gardener at Bodnant Garden (pictured), Adam Salvin, added: 'It's been a real shock to staff and volunteers coming in to see the devastation caused in one night. There have been tears'

Acting head gardener at Bodnant Garden (pictured), Adam Salvin, added: ‘It’s been a real shock to staff and volunteers coming in to see the devastation caused in one night. There have been tears’

At Wallington in Northumberland, thousands of trees came down as winds reached speeds of up to 98mph, including more than half of a generation of 250-year-old oak and beech trees planted by Sir Walter Calverley Blackett.

The property is without power, phone lines and water, and all footpaths are blocked, the National Trust said.

In the Lake District, the charity’s staff were still counting the number of trees brought down, but expect the final total to be in the thousands.

Hundreds of trees were lost on estates such as Wray Castle, Fell Foot and Sizergh, while at Tarn Hows, a 19th century landscape once owned by Beatrix Potter, fallen trees and debris are blocking access roads and paths.

Other National Trust properties that were badly affected include Hardcastle Crags in West Yorkshire, Erddig near Wrexham, Cragside in Northumberland and Attingham Park in Shropshire.

Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said the storm had delivered a ‘huge blow to British heritage’ at Bodnant, taking down some of the most important and earliest specimen trees at the garden.

‘With it being National Tree Week we had expected to be celebrating the extraordinary trees in our care – not witnessing the scale of destruction we have.

‘But this week has taken on a new significance for us, and we’re asking our supporters to donate, if they can, to help us restore the places affected.’

He said the gardens and landscapes would take months to clear up, and years or even decades to fully restore – and some would not be the same again.

‘We will also make sure that this restoration work is as resilient as possible to extreme weather events of this kind, which are becoming ever more common as the climate changes.’

Acting head gardener at Bodnant Garden, Adam Salvin, added: ‘It’s been a real shock to staff and volunteers coming in to see the devastation caused in one night. There have been tears.

‘We’ve seen storms and floods here before but this damage is on a scale not seen in living memory.’

The trust is advising visitors to sites in northern Wales and England to check property websites before setting out, as some places remain closed and walking routes at others may have changed due to the damage.


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