Thousands left without power as Storm Desmond hits North East

Northern Powergrid engineers have been working through the night to restore supplies to 23,000 customers.

Northern Powergrid engineers have been working through the night to restore supplies to 23,000 customers.

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Around 23,000 homes were left without power after Storm Desmond battered the North East.

The customers who were left without power were across the North East, predominantly in Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear.

Northern Powergrid, which runs the power network, said at 10am today that it has restored power to around 19,000 of the affected customers.

However, another 3,500 households have since lost their supply in Seaham as the storm continued through the morning.

Joanne Kerrigan from Northern Powergrid said: "In Seaham we have 3,447 homes without power - they went off about 10.30 this morning.

"The first thing we do is to despatch an engineer to locate the course, so we can look at it in terms of doing a repair.

"Now we are starting the process of rerouting power through the network so we can bring customers back on to supply.

"Hopefully the last customers will be on by 4.30 this afternoon. We apologise to customers for the disruption.

"Obviously the weather conditions are very difficult, but we are working very hard to restore power as soon as we can."

The severe weather hit at 7pm last night, and engineers have diverted electricity supplies, where possible, through alternative routes on the network despite storm-force winds making it difficult for them to climb and repair the damage to overhead power lines from fallen trees and flying debris.

A Northern Powergrid spokeswoman said: “We have invested in maintaining and upgrading our network, but weather like Storm Desmond can result in debris and fallen trees damaging our overhead power lines.

“Our engineers have worked throughout the night, diverting electricity through alternative routes on our network, to restore power to the majority of our customers affected.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused and thank our customers for their patience while we carry out the necessary repairs.

"We’d like to reassure them that our engineers are working hard, in what is very challenging weather conditions, to get the remaining customers who are still without power back on as soon as possible.”

Northern Powergrid’s local 24-hour contact centre has additional customer advisors who are offering customers support and advice.

Customers can also use their mobile to visit the company’s website, northernpowergrid.com, which has an easy-to-use power cut reporting service that is regularly updated.

Northern Powergrid’s Twitter (@northpowergrid) and Facebook pages are also providing regular updates and advice to customers and local communities.

The Met Office is forecasting continued strong wind across the weekend until tomorrow, and Northern Powergrid is closely monitoring the weather forecast.

It has additional engineers and call centre advisors ready to help keep the lights on for customers, repair any potential damage and answer customer enquiries.

Customers with a disability, medical condition or very young families, who may need greater assistance during a power cut and have signed up to the company’s Priority Services Register, are being kept updated as a priority.

Northern Powergrid has also deployed customer support vehicles to support local communities offering practical help and advice.

Customers should contact the company to report any damage to lines on its 24-hour power cut enquiry number: 0800 66 88 77.

Power cut advice and tips include:

• turn off electrical appliances at the socket (this is particularly important for heating or cooking appliances as your power could be restored at any time and potentially cause a safety hazard)

• keep one light switched on so you know when power is restored

• keep a battery or wind-up torch handy – they’re much safer than candles

• bookmark Northern Powergrid’s online power cut reporting service on your mobile devices – www.northernpowergrid.com/power-cuts

• have a charged mobile phone with important numbers, including Northern Powergrid’s contact details, easily accessible.

• check on your elderly or sick neighbours and relatives

• ensure you have warm clothing and blankets handy and some food and drink in your home that does not require electricity to heat or prepare it

• only call 999 in the event of an emergency.