A COUNTY Durham resident impacted by shortages of power caused by Storm Arwen has claimed that she'd "rather be in prison" than face the prospect of having another evening without electricity and heating. 

Like many people across the region, Tracey Metcalfe, who lives in Coronation, Bishop Auckland, has been without power since last Friday after winds, rain, and snow contributed to power lines to 240,000 homes in the UK cutting out, leaving many stranded without power.

Despite Northern Powergrid and its engineers working to reconnect 234,000 houses so far, Mrs Metcalfe is still one of the thousands that hasn’t been reacquainted with essential utilities, along with many people who also live in Coronation.

Read more: North Yorkshire B&B tells of how Storm Arwen has "taken his livelihood away"

At its worst over the last seven days, the homeowner has described feeling “scared to go to sleep” just in case the candles she had lit ended up setting fire to her house.

For the last couple of days, Mrs Metcalfe has stayed with her friend Susan Sowerby, but having only had one hot meal over the last week and not bathing for four days, she’s described her frustration at the situation she finds herself in.

Telling her account of how she’s coped with the power outage, she told The Northern Echo: “Me and my neighbours are still plunged into pitch-black darkness. It’s the same that it has been for the last seven days, boredom and the hope of getting power back that doesn’t seem to arrive.

The Northern Echo: Power lines to still remain off in Coronation and other parts of County Durham. Photo: Sarah Caldecott.Power lines to still remain off in Coronation and other parts of County Durham. Photo: Sarah Caldecott.

“I don’t say this lightly, but prison would be a better option than what we’re facing – I’d be warm, have a TV and be able to wash and clean myself. It feels awful saying that, but it’s the reality we are now in.

“Things we take for granted – watching TV, hoovering, cooking and cleaning – these are all things I can no longer do because of the power shortage.”

Despite going almost 160 hours without electricity, the Coronation resident says that she’s “luckier than most” after travelling the 70-mile round trip to her daughter’s house in Hartlepool yesterday to get a bath, which she compared to “winning the lottery”.

The Northern Echo: Residents in Coronation yesterday (Thursday, December 2). Photo: Sarah Caldecott.Residents in Coronation yesterday (Thursday, December 2). Photo: Sarah Caldecott.

Mrs Metcalfe added: “It was bliss to be able to get a bath and feel warm, instead of the numbness I’ve felt through the week.

“I spent a few hours in Hartlepool, and it felt like I had become a millionaire and won the lottery – it was the most amazing feeling.

“The first time that I’ve washed all week and managed to have some cake and custard – one of the only food items I’ve managed all week, too.”

Read more: MARY FOY: Why didn't the Government help the north after Storm Arwen sooner

Earlier today, Northern Powergrid, who are working to restore those most affected, hinted that some communities, including Coronation, might not be back on the electricity network until December 8 – something that Mrs Metcalfe has called “atrocious”.

“One minute we’re getting told that it’s 5pm today, 10pm today and then December 8 and then January – I wish they’d make their mind up,” she added.

“You get it into your head that you’re getting power back, and then the carpet gets yanked from underneath you, and you’re back to square one - it’s ridiculous.”

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