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Storm Arwen: Armed forces being deployed in Scotland to areas cut off by storm

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The armed forces are being deployed to parts of Scotland which have been cut off following Storm Arwen, a minister has said.

Armed forces minister James Heappey said 134 soldiers and marines will assist in the Grampian area and will attempt to reach around 4,000 homes.

The soldiers, working in teams of 10, will be tasked with offering reassurance and help to 12 villages that were cut off when the storm hit.

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Some 3,100 homes remain without power

Thousands of people are still without power following “extensive and catastrophic” damage caused by the storm.

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Three people were killed by falling trees as winds up to 98mph hit some parts.

One man, who died after his vehicle was struck by a falling tree in Aberdeenshire, has been formally identified as David Lapage, 35.

David Lapage, 35, died after his Nissan Navara pick-up was struck by a falling tree. Pic: Police Scotland
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David Lapage, 35, died after his Nissan Navara pick-up was struck by a falling tree. Pic: Police Scotland

In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said: “The family would like to thank all services involved and greatly appreciate all the messages of support.”

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), which distributes power to 3.7 million homes in central southern England and the north of Scotland, said 3,100 people are still off power.

However, the Energy Networks Association said the total number of homes without power stands at 16,000 as of Thursday afternoon – with 98% of the one million homes affected reconnected.

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Paul Richardson, who lives in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, told Sky News that his family had been without power since last Saturday, 27 November.

He said: “We are a family of five and although the children are all adults they are still living at home.

“Our youngest daughter Emily has Down syndrome, this has many effects on her health, one being that she is more susceptible to cold weather than you or I, so can easily feel the cold and pick up respiratory infections – not what you want in this day with COVID.”

Work continues, a week after the storm
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Work continues, a week after the storm
Northern Powergrid are currently working to restore power
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Northern Powergrid are currently working to restore power

Although the family has a log burner, they have resorted to eating out and visiting friends and family nearby for hot showers and to charge devices.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if Northern Powergrid invested in its network to make sure it is safe and secure rather than paying the people at the top a fortune and keeping their investors happy?” said Mr Richardson.

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Strong winds of up to 100mph were recorded over the weekend, with many similar structures being totally destroyed.

Kelly Osborne, who lives in Chester-le-Street, said being without power had left her feeling ill: “My physical health has been affected by the cold – its caused a chest infection alongside the stress of not knowing anything.”

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Areas most affected included Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire, with a hundred engineers deployed from the south to help reconnect people.

Aberdeenshire is the main area affected, with 2,400 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.

Aberdeenshire Council said in a statement: “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.”

Mark Rough, SSEN operations director, said: “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.

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“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.”

A fallen tree in North Tyneside after Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across large parts of the UK
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Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across large parts of the UK

Jim Cardwell, from Northern Powergrid, said: “We have been telling our customers that the majority of customers are going to be on supply this week. It’s really difficult for us to tell and probably quite misleading to give a ‘final customers back on by a certain point’ because I think we will almost certainly try and outperform that anyway.”

He said Northern Powergrid “spend about a million pounds a day in investment” in the network but added: “The infrastructure just in the way the trees and the buildings can only stand so much punishment.”

“The winds we saw here were gusting over 90mph and maybe up to 100mph in some places and this part of the country has been really badly affected.”

It comes as rain, sleet and snow have fallen in southwestern parts of the UK, while wintry showers have affected the north and east.

A snow plough clears the A53 road between Leek and Buxton in Derbyshire after Storm Arwen
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Three people were killed by falling trees as winds up to 98mph hit some areas

More snow is expected to hit Scotland on Friday before moving across towards the south east.

Meanwhile, the National Trust said the storm has had a “devastating impact” on wildlife, with around 800 seal pups estimated to have died.

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