Labour’s City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy, has reacted to the widespread power cuts and devastation caused by Storm Arwen over the weekend, stating that she is seriously concerned over the preparedness of Durham County Council, Northern PowerGrid and other responsible agencies to react to extreme weather events in the future.
Extremely high winds on Friday night and Saturday morning have meant that many residents in Durham have been without electricity for four days. Communities across County Durham have contacted Mary, to express their anxiety over when power will restored and the poor communications that they have received from Northern Powergrid.
As a consequence, Mary and her team have spent recent days working closely with Northern Power Grid and local communities to ensure residents have accurate information and to ensure outages are logged.
“My office has been inundated with calls, emails and messages on social media from people across my constituency, County Durham and indeed the wider North East. People are quite understandably concerned about continued power outages and the lack of clear and reliable information being provided.
It is deeply concerning how many people, including a great number who are vulnerable, ill, or have extremely tight household budgets, have been left without lighting, heating or basic cooking facilities for days on end.
I want to put on record my thanks to the emergency workers and engineers who have been working tirelessly in sometimes dangerous conditions for long hours over the weekend, to keep residents safe and restore power to our homes.
Special thanks must go to the selflessness of the many volunteers who have opened the doors of community centres to ensure that residents can escape the cold and have access to a hot meal.
However, the preparedness of Durham County Council, Northern Powergrid and other Governmental agencies for extreme weather events must be reviewed after this incident. It is a sad, inconvenient reality that storms and high winds such as we witnessed over the weekend will occur with alarming regularity in the years and decades ahead because of climate change. Durham County Council was one of the first local authorities in the country to declare a climate emergency, but the weather this weekend shows that stronger climate mitigation plans need to be put in place.
While engineers are working to repair the significant damage caused by Storm Arwen, communities have been left to support each other, and I will be asking the council to review its plans should such an event occur again.
In light of this we must build resilience, and put in place plans locally and nationally to ensure that when crises strike there is clearer communication and arrangements for people to seek refuge”