SOLDIERS have been drafted in to support County Durham residents affected by ongoing power cuts following Storm Arwen.

More than 80 members of the Royal Lancers based at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire arrived this morning.

Why has the Army been brought in?

It follows a request from County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum (LRF) for additional resources to strengthen and accelerate the support it is currently providing to communities.

Earlier this week, the LRF declared a major incident.

This was due to the number of properties affected, the length of time residents had been without power and the fact that the level of damage caused by the bad weather has meant that Northern Powergrid is unable to confirm when supplies will be restored.

Without confirmation of when power supplies may be restored, Durham County Council submitted a request for Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA) to the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the LRF.

MACAs are used when the agencies involved in the response to an ongoing situation have exhausted all other sources of support.

John Hewitt, chairman of the LRF’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group, said: “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 already have troops on the ground helping our communities.”

What will the Army be doing?

They will be conducting welfare visits and offering reassurance to the thousands of residents still without power.

Servicemen and women, based in St John’s Chapel, in Weardale, will carry out door-to-door visits to check on residents’ wellbeing and ensure that any help and support is provided where needed.

They will also offer information and updates on work to restore the power supply and gather feedback for LRF partners on any issues of concern and identify where additional support is required.

The MACA arrangement will be kept under review.

How can we help people who need it?

Anyone who is aware of an older or vulnerable person who needs help, can contact our customer services team on 03000 260 000. This number is available 24 hours, with out of hours emergency support available through the Care Connect team.

To report a loss of power, visit – a map showing updated information on current power cuts is available by clicking here   

If someone is without power and is vulnerable, call 105. Additional contact numbers are available for residents with a hearing or speech impairment.

Full details are available here

A list of community venues offering support can be found here 

What has the Government said?

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “We are always ready to rapidly provide extra support for communities across the UK in their time of need.

“Today we have deployed 83 personnel from the Royal Lancers based at Catterick to support Durham County Council with door-to-door welfare checks in the communities impacted by Storm Arwen.

“Armed Forces personnel are also providing support in Scotland, where 134 personnel deployed yesterday following a request from Aberdeenshire Council.”

Read more: The people, cafes and hotels stepping up as County Durham hit by Storm Arwen

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