Durham County Council working tirelessly to help those affected by Storm Arwen

Supporting those affected by Storm Arwen is a key priority for the North East’s largest council.

The storm, which brought gale force winds, heavy rain and heavy snow over the weekend, saw many households lose power, roads forced to close, and damage caused to housing and other buildings.

Durham County Council teams worked across the county throughout the weekend and continue to be busy dealing with the aftermath of the storm. The local authority’s priority is ensuring support is available to those who are still affected by a power cut and is identifying and contacting vulnerable people to offer support.

It is also urging anyone who knows a vulnerable person in need of help to contact its customer services team on 03000 26 0000.

The council is working closely with Northern Powergrid to ensure supplies are restored as soon as possible, particularly for older and vulnerable residents. So far, power has been restored to more than 90 per cent of households affected by the storm across the region. Unfortunately, the damage caused to the supply in some areas of County Durham, including parts of Weardale and Teesdale, is greater than first thought and it has not yet been possible to restore power.

Northern Powergrid is working hard to restore power through temporary repairs or alternative forms of power until the permanent repair work is complete and Durham County Council is supporting these efforts. This includes identifying council buildings and community venues where residents can access hot food and drinks.

The council has also been working with partners including the police, fire service and North East Ambulance Service since Friday to provide blankets, torches and other items to those without power.

Regarding care settings in the county, Northern Powergrid has advised that power has either been reinstated or alternative power sources provided to all care homes. The council is working with local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to provide any additional support that may be required for care homes.

Due to the high winds, a significant number of trees fell throughout the county and damaged property, with teams across the council’s highways, building services and clean and green teams working alongside the civil contingency unit to ensure the public remained as safe as possible. The highways teams are also continuing with their normal winter maintenance schedule, including salting priority one footpaths outside vaccination centres.

Over the weekend slow blowers and extensive additional plant and equipment were deployed to deal with heavy snow. In addition to the 38 gritters covering priority one routes, 14 trailer gritters, 10 tractor ploughs and 10 loading shovels were also deployed to assist in clearing the road network, with 2,479 tonnes of salt used on roads in the county between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening.

All available arboricultural teams also worked through the weekend to remove and make safe fallen trees. This operation continues due to the high numbers received over the weekend.

Cllr John Shuttleworth, the council’s Cabinet member for rural communities and highways, said: “Our staff have been working around the clock to assist those affected by Storm Arwen.

“We would encourage all residents to follow the guidance provided by ringing the appropriate helpline numbers or going to the relevant websites if needed.”

To report a power cut, visit www.northernpowergrid.com

To assist someone who is without power and is vulnerable, call 105. Additional contact numbers are available for residents with a hearing or speech impairment with full details available at www.northernpowergrid.com/contact

Those wanting to report a weather emergency, or those who are vulnerable and need help, should call 03000 26 0000.

For current road, school and library closures go to www.durham.gov.uk/alerts