AROUND 100 servicemen and women will be based in Weardale to do welfare checks on locals and give updates on the recovery operation after Storm Arwen, say Durham County Council.

The news follows a request from County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum for additional resources due to the number of homes affected.

The servicemen and women are to be based at St John's Chapel in Weardale.

Read more:  Bishop Auckland MP says 'military support' on way as thousands still without power

It was also made due the length of time residents had been without power and because Northern Powergrid was unable to confirm when supplies will be restored due to the severity of the damage.

John Hewitt, chair of the LRF’s strategic co-ordinating group, said: “We are doing everything we can to support residents who are affected by the disruption to power supplies, from providing emergency supplies to simply checking in to make sure everything is OK.”

“We are very grateful to the Ministry of Defence that they have approved our request for support and that we already have troops on the ground helping our communities.”

He added: "However, without a clear idea of when power will be fully restored, we have had to look at drafting in additional support to help us ensure that we can continue to carry out these vital welfare checks and provide any help that is required.

"We are very grateful to the Ministry of Defence that they have approved our request for support and that we will this morning have troops on the ground helping our communities."

The council said servicemen and women will carry out door-to-door visits to check on residents’ wellbeing and ensure any help and support is provided where needed.

They will also provide updates on work to restore the power supply and gather feedback on any issues of concern.

Mr Hewitt added that as of Thursday night there were still 4,000 to 5,000 properties without power in the county after Storm Arwen.

Read more: Police looking for vulnerable 57-year-old after “concern for her welfare.”

Mr Hewitt told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that this was “still a significant number”.

He said he expects military aid to arrive on Friday morning.

Reportedly requests for Military Aid to the Civil Authority are made the agencies involved in the response to an ongoing situation have exhausted all other sources of support.

Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham issued a statment on twitter last night saying he had been in touch with the Defence Minister to request military aid.


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