More than 150,000 homes without power on Monday, with damage thought to be worst since 2005
More than 150,000 homes across the UK were facing a fourth night without power after Storm Arwen wreaked havoc, bringing down trees and electricity lines.
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said damage caused by Friday’s storm was some of the worst since 2005. More than a million homes lost power with 155,000 nationwide still waiting to be reconnected on Monday afternoon.
It came as 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 -8.7C (16.34F).
Continuing snowfall in some areas made access for engineers more difficult, a spokesperson for ENA said. Helicopters and drones were also being used to identify and assess damage.
“Engineers are continuing to uncover snapped electricity poles, downed wires and other complex faults. In some areas of the country the damage is some of the worst seen since 2005.”
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. 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.”
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. It said the priority had been temporary fixes.
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, power had been restored to 81,000 properties.
Overhead lines teams from the south-east of England and 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.
Oli Claydon a Met Office spokesperson, said there had been a “warming trend” through Monday.
“The whole of the UK will turn milder,” he said. “The places that will hold on to the cold air the longest will be in the south-east of the UK. The low temperatures will return on Wednesday and Thursday night. However, I don’t think it will be quite as low as we have seen before.”
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.
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”.