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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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‘Abandoned’ homes lose power in storm

One of many people left without power in the Congleton area during Storm Arwen at the weekend said residents felt “abandoned” as they went without heating and lighting for two days.

The community of Somerford was one area where electricity went off overnight on Friday and was not reconnected until Monday morning.

The cause is believed to have been a tree that blew down onto a power line near the link road, a stretch of which was forced to close. Power was also cut off in the Eaton and Hulme Walfield areas. Some families checked into hotels as the outage continued.

Karen Cope, who lives on the Somerford Reach housing development off Black Firs Lane with her husband and two children, said: “It’s been awful. No-one from the police or council came to check on the houses down here, bearing in mind 90% of people on the estate locked their homes and booked into hotels while the power was off.

“We were in pitch darkness at night and with the heating off from 3.30am on Saturday until Monday morning.”

She added: “We had no choice but to stay at home in the cold and dark as our son is autistic and struggles with staying away from home unless its pre-planned.

“There were people with babies and young children, and the elderly, who were just left to struggle.”

Mrs Cope said: “Scottish Power kept moving the goalposts as to when the power supply would be reconnected. First it said it would be 4pm, by which time people thought it would not be worth booking somewhere to stay, then it was put back to 8pm. It still didn’t come on then by which time hotels would have been booked.”

She said that while the power was off residents had to drive off the estate to get a phone signal to see if there were any updates on the energy company’s website.

“We’ve had to throw away food from our fridge and freezer as the power was off for two days and all the frozen food had defrosted,” explained Mrs Cope.

“It’s been tough for lots of people. They just felt like they’d been abandoned. Contingency plans should have been put in place.

“Cheshire East Council put something on its website but if you didn’t have a phone signal, you could not access information. It’s a bit bad that no-one from any of the agencies came to check on residents. Not everyone has family they can go and stay with.”

On Monday, Cheshire East said that with uncertainty over when the power would return, residents were welcome at Macclesfield Leisure Centre or Nantwich Library.

Geoff Bell, of Chelford Road, Somerford said: “My land backs on to the link road, opposite where the power line had been brought down by a tree, and the cable was lying across the link road and my land.

“I asked a Scottish Power surveyor on site inspecting the power line when it would be repaired, and he said they hoped to get a team on site on Sunday night to put a temporary line in.

“Power was back on at 3am on Monday, so it had been off for 48 hours.”

He added: “Everyone relies on power – even the gas heating relies on electricity so there was absolutely nothing we could do.

“My neighbour is 104 and I was most concerned about her, so I spoke to Scottish Power and within an hour or two they had delivered a generator to her house.

“At least she had a temporary supply on Sunday afternoon and that night. Scottish Power was very co-operative about that.”

As the power cut continued a local church stepped in to help. Swettenham Church offered to host Hulme Walfield Church’s afternoon Christingle service.

Carrie Yuen-Stenton, the benefice administrator for the parishes of Marton Siddington with Capesthorne, Eaton with Hulme Walfield and Swettenham, said: “The Hulme Walfield folk went over to Siddington Church and some people came from Marton. The service was beautiful, and the children played a great part.

“It was nice that Swettenham could step in at the last minute. It stepped up to the plate and did it really well.”

Scottish Power said storm Arwen caused some of the worst damage to its network in more than 15 years. Due to the extent of the storm’s impact, the company could not comment specifically about how many local homes had been left without power.

A spokesperson said on Monday: “We apologise to all of our customers who have been affected by the damage. We understand the inconvenience this has caused many households and we appreciate everyone’s patience while we continue to try to resolve the ongoing issues.

“Our engineers have been out working since Friday night to try to get power on as quickly and safely as possible, but it has been difficult as the damage across our network has been extensive.

“We’ve seen more than 600 faults in Scotland and 700 in England and Wales. Since the beginning of the storm, engineers have reconnected over 150,000 customers.”

It said 3,600 customers had been affected in England and Wales.

On Monday, Cheshire East Council said it had continued to respond to more than 100 calls regarding storm Arwen, with 96 reports alone on Friday of fallen trees on the road network.

On Monday, roads that remained closed due to fallen trees were Hall Lane, Sandbach, while School Lane in Brereton was still partially blocked due to a fallen tree.

Crewe Road in Winterley, near Winterley Gardens, was partly obstructed by a fallen lamppost and tree.

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