‘Lack of power’ blamed for person's death as Storm Arwen power cuts enter sixth day

2 December 2021, 14:15 | Updated: 2 December 2021, 14:48

Storm Arwen left thousands without power
Storm Arwen left thousands without power. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Power cuts caused by Storm Arwen have been blamed for contributing to the death of a "vulnerable" resident near a town in Northumberland.

A person is feared to have died near the town of Rothbury due to Storm Arwen power cuts, with their home understood to be among thousands left without electricity and heating for several days.

The news of the death emerged in a Facebook post from Steve Bridgett, who represents the Rothbury ward, who said: "We had a resident in the area pass away last night - I don't want to go into too much detail out of respect for the family, but the person in question had underlying health conditions, but I don't think the situation we are in helped matters, as their property is still without power and heating.

"So we want to make sure we check in on everyone today, to ensure if anyone is in that position, or if they need any extra support, we can get them it.

Children have been forced to work by candlelight
Children have been forced to work by candlelight. Picture: Liz Knox

"I'm absolutely devastated. I don't want anyone to pass away - the person in health had underlying health conditions - but this situation hasn't helped and I want to do whatever we can to avoid any more situations like that."

It comes in the wake of the devastation caused by Storm Arwen, which rolled over northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the end of last week, cutting off nearly a million homes at one point and killing three people.

Tens of thousands were still without electricity and LBC has been told about how people have been left fearing for elderly relatives and forced to try find temporary accommodation.

They complained the response has been too slow, especially compared to if it had happened in London, while the business and energy department said it is "unacceptable" and was working to restore power.

Read more: Storm Arwen: How many homes remain without power - and what's being done?

Cllr Steve Bridgett says Storm Arwen should have been major incident

A Northumberland councillor told LBC a person had died as roughly 350 properties continue to have no power, almost a week after the storm wreaked havoc.

A massive effort is under way to door knock residents and tell them how to get help.

LBC has contacted the council, while the ambulance service declined to comment and Northumbria Police said it would not have responded to it.

Meanwhile LBC was sent pictures of children being forced to do their schoolwork by candlelight in Dickensian scenes.

A 15 minute's drive north of Rothbury is Whittingham, where Liz Knox said she had been without power for six nights now and her daughter was completing school work by candlelight.

Images show her in a darkened room with barely any light to work with – at one point using a head torch to read a book.

Dave Taylor from Red Cross helping co-ordinate response to Storm Arwen

Cllr Bridgett said: "A lot of these properties have been cut off since Friday, so we need to make contact with as many people in those properties. We've got fire service, national park mountain rescue, mountain rescue, we've divided the areas up to door knock, to deliver a letter telling people what services we've got available while their power is off.

"If they need accommodation we can move them, and just basically making contact with some of them for the first time in six days, I would imagine.

"It's starting to strain on us now. Obviously, we are quite a resilient community up here, we've had our fair share of disasters, but we are starting to notice the strain now.

"We've got about 350 properties that are still off, but some of those could take days to get back online.

"The community has rallied round - I asked for volunteers to come. We needed volunteers from Rothbury, hot soup and food for residents.

"The community spirit up here is unbelievable."

Welfare centres and hot food are being provided, with the energy network companies working with local resilience forums, emergency services, local authorities and the British Red Cross.

A free support line set up by the Red Cross to provide emotional support can be reached on 0808 196 3651.

The Government has provided information on the steps to take if you are affected by a power cut here.

Meanwhile, information about applying for compensation is available from Ofgem's website.

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