Military deployed to help in aftermath of Storm Arwen

Around 120 troops will 'focus on welfare checks on the ground' in communities still impacted by loss of power.

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More than 100 military personnel are being deployed to assist people still without power in Aberdeenshire following the devastation caused by Storm Arwen.

Troops will start arriving in affected communities on Thursday morning after the local authority made a formal approach to the UK Government requesting assistance.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers following “catastrophic damage” caused by Friday’s storm, and hoped to restore power to an additional 2500 homes overnight.

The majority of those still without supply are in rural communities in areas including Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire.

A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said around 120 military personnel are due to arrive in the area “to support our ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen”.  

The spokesperson added: “The troops will focus on welfare checks on the ground within those communities still impacted by loss of power and will supplement what our own teams have been doing since the weekend.  

“We continue to appreciate all the wonderful examples of community assistance which continue to be evident across the region – whether it be supplies of hot food and drinks, checking on elderly residents and neighbours or helping to deliver supplies.  

“Thank you for your all your endeavours and rest assured we continue to work tirelessly to provide the support our communities require at this challenging time.”

SSEN has said it will reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.

Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.

Chris Burchell, SSEN managing director, described Storm Arwen as a “once in a generation extreme weather event” and said the company was doing all it could to restore power “as quickly as possible”.

He added: “As our teams continue to make good progress repairing and restoring the high voltage network in what remains very challenging conditions, we are increasingly turning our focus to the low voltage network, which serves single or groups of homes, often in rural and isolated communities.

“Whilst the low voltage network only serves a fraction of the customers the high voltage network supplies, the repairs required to restore power are just as challenging and complex, which in some cases will require the rebuild of entire sections of overhead line.

“We therefore encourage all customers who remain off supply, particularly where overhead network infrastructure supplies single or small groups of houses, to consider making alternative arrangements.

“This includes our enhanced welfare provisions, with our teams proactively contacting customers to help coordinate support where possible.”

Meanwhile, the National Trust for Scotland says the weather has had a “devastating” impact on wildlife and trees.

About 800 seal pups are feared to have died at its Berwickshire site as a result of the storm.

At Castle Fraser, about 200 trees are down and the Pittendreigh wood at Leith Hall has been badly damaged, with estate trails at Crathes Castle, Haddo House and Brodie Castle also blocked.

People are asked to stay away from the properties until they are made safe.

In the south-west, Culzean Country Park and Threave Estate also lost trees, causing some damage to buildings including the 19th century pagoda at Culzean.

At the Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve a project to repair its historic Victorian bridge has been set back due to damage caused by the high winds.

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