EFFORTS to restore power to households and businesses without electricity were continuing over the weekend, with now fewer than 5,000 homes in the North East still affected by the prolonged outage.

More than a week after Storm Arwen brought devastation to communities across the region energy supplier Northern Powergrid said it has restored power to 235,500 of the 240,000 affected customers, a reduction of 600 today.

It said its teams of engineers, bolstered by emergency recruits from other power companies across the country, were working into the night to restore power to the mainly rural communities in County Durham and Northumberland, plus some pockets in more built up areas, still powerless.

But with still 700 jobs to repair damaged infrastructure on its network, some customers have been told it may take until Wednesday for their power to be switched on again.

The company has apologised after complaints of poor communication in the aftermath of the storm as customers tried to contact the company to report outages and find out when they are likely to have power supply resumed.

Major incidents were declared in County Durham, on Thursday, and in Northumberland on Friday, with more than 100 military personnel from the Royal Lancers arriving to distribute welfare packages in affected communities in Weardale, yesterday.

Other areas still affected will be visited by care package distributors over the weekend.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed today a further 80 soldiers have been deployed to the North East, specifically to distribute aid in affected areas of Northumberland.

It brings the total number of military personnel helping in the post-Arwen aid effort to 297 round the country.

Meanwhile Government energy regulator Ofgem has announced it is to stage an urgent review into the networks’ response to Storm Arwen.

It will focus on the role of the network companies in maintaining the resilience of the system and their emergency response, including its communication with customers.

It said as part of the review Ofgem, “aims to establish the facts and, if necessary, will pursue enforcement action.”

The full terms of reference of the review will be confirmed on Monday.

It has also lifted the amount of compensation available to affected customers.

There was a £700 limit, but the cap has been removed which means the most affected customers could receive up to £140 a day for each day they are without power until it is restored.

Information about restoration work and welfare support is available from Northern Powergrid via http://ow.ly/UjBM50H3llv.

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