MORE than 100 military personnel are being sent to Aberdeenshire to help those affected by Storm Arwen.
Thousands of people remain without power almost a week after the storm hit last Friday and some are not expected to be reconnected until Saturday.
Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen are among the areas worst affected, and Aberdeenshire Council has now said 120 service personnel are being drafted in to help deal with the storm’s aftermath.
The council said: “Following an approach to the UK Government, 120 military personnel are headed to Aberdeenshire to support ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen.
“Troops will focus on welfare checks on the ground within communities still impacted by loss of power.”
The local authority said on Twitter that the military support will supplement the actions of the council and praised those offering community assistance.
It added: “Rest assured we continue to work tirelessly to provide the support our communities need at this challenging time.”
Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) said in its latest update that as of noon on Thursday, 3,100 customers remain off supply, while more than 125,000 have had power restored.
Aberdeenshire is the main area affected, with 2400 customers waiting to be reconnected there and in Aberdeen.
There are also around 300 still without power in Angus, around 200 each in Moray and Perthshire and some 25 in Stirlingshire.
SSEN said it aims to restore power to the vast majority of homes still affected by Friday, subject to no new damage being identified or unforeseen challenges.
But the firm said “small pockets of customers on SSEN’s low voltage network in Aberdeenshire will not be reconnected until Saturday”.
The company plans to contact these customers to offer support, including accommodation.
Mark Rough, SSEN operations director, said: “As Aberdeenshire is the main area which continues to be impacted by Storm Arwen, when power is restored to customers in other regions we are redeploying additional resources to support restoration efforts, as well as enhancing welfare provisions in the region.
“Due to the extent of damage on the low voltage network, particularly to single premises, some customers in Aberdeenshire will regrettably remain off supply until Saturday and our teams will proactively contact those customers to offer whatever support is required.
“I would like to reassure all customers still off supply that our teams are doing everything they can to restore power as quickly as possible and would once again like to apologise for everyone who has experienced a loss of supply as a result of Storm Arwen.”
Meanwhile, the National Trust for Scotland has said the weather has had a “devastating” impact on wildlife and trees.
About 800 seal pups are feared to have died at its Berwickshire site as a result of the storm.
At Castle Fraser, about 200 trees are down and the Pittendreigh wood at Leith Hall has been badly damaged, with estate trails at Crathes Castle, Haddo House and Brodie Castle also blocked.
People are asked to stay away from the properties until they are made safe.
In the south-west, Culzean Country Park and Threave Estate also lost trees, causing some damage to buildings including the 19th century pagoda at Culzean.
At the Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve a project to repair its historic Victorian bridge has been set back due to damage caused by the high winds.