Military personnel are supporting efforts this weekend to help those in County Durham affected by Storm Arwen.
Troops were yesterday deployed to areas in the county where partners from the County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum (LRF) have been helping those worst affected by last weekend’s storm.
The servicemen and women are supporting efforts already being carried out by the LRF, including welfare checks and reassuring the thousands of residents still without power.
Support parcels with food and heating essentials have been supplied by Durham County Council, which are being delivered to residents in need over the weekend.
Community paramedics are continuing to visit the most vulnerable and Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team have been providing invaluable support to teams on the ground.
The military arrived yesterday at St John’s Chapel, in Weardale, where they helped partners carry out door-to-door visits to check on residents’ wellbeing.
They were also delivering updates to residents on work to restore the power supply, as well as gathering feedback on any issues of concern and identifying where additional support is required.
Their presence is on the back of a request from the LRF for additional resources to support the work being undertaken across affected local communities in County Durham.
Representatives from Durham County Council, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Durham Constabulary, Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, NHS bodies, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water, the voluntary sector and many other partners have been providing a range of support to residents this week.
Partners declared the storm a major incident on Wednesday 1 December due to the number of properties that continued to be affected and the fact that the level of damage caused by the bad weather meant Northern Powergrid was unable to confirm when supplies will be restored.
In response, Durham County Council submitted a request for Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA) to the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the LRF.
MACAs are used when the agencies involved in the response to an ongoing situation have exhausted all other sources of support.
John Hewitt, Chair of the LRF’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group and Chief Executive of Durham County Council, said:
“We have been working with partners to do everything we can to help residents affected by Storm Arwen since last weekend, and we are extremely grateful for the quick response from the Ministry of Defence to our request for extra support.
“With the assistance of military personnel, we have been able to get more people on the ground and accelerate our recovery effort, continuing to carry out vital welfare checks and deliver support, reassurance and essentials.
“We know that communities are also rallying round and supporting each other, with many groups opening up venues to provide hot food and drinks and individuals checking in on friends and neighbours. We’d like to commend local residents for coming together and looking after one another while we try to reach as many people as we can.
“We are receiving regular updates from Northern Powergrid and are tracking where power is being restored so we can focus our support on the areas which now remain without power. This has reduced significantly in the last few days, but we still had in the region of 3,000 properties that did not have a power supply earlier today.
“We will be continuing our multi-agency support across the weekend with partners in the LRF to help residents who are still affected by the aftermath of the storm whilst Northern Powergrid continue to carry out repairs to the network.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “We are always ready to rapidly provide extra support for communities across the UK in their time of need.
“We have deployed 83 personnel from the Royal Lancers based at Catterick to support Durham County Council with door-to-door welfare checks in the communities impacted by Storm Arwen.
“Armed Forces personnel are also providing support in Scotland, where 134 personnel deployed yesterday following a request from Aberdeenshire Council.”
Military support will continue over the weekend and will be reviewed over the next few days.
Anyone who is aware of an older or vulnerable person who needs help, can contact our customer services team on 03000 26 0000. This number is available 24 hours, with out of hours emergency support available through our Care Connect team.
If someone is without power and is vulnerable, call 105. Additional contact numbers are available for residents with a hearing or speech impairment. Full details are available at https://www.northernpowergrid.com/contact.