MILITARY personnel have been supporting the aid efforts for North East communities affected by Storm Arwen.

As Northern Powergrid continued to restore power to households left without heating and lighting for the past eight days, troops have been deployed to areas in County Durham and Northumberland worst affected by Storm Arwen, last weekend.

In County Durham 83 members of the Catterick-based Royal Lancers backed the efforts of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), performing welfare checks, with a similar number deployed to Northumberland.

They are distributing aid and reassuring the several thousand residents still without power.

Support parcels with food and heating essentials have been supplied by Durham County Council.

Northern Powergrid said today there were now 3,500 customers without power in the North East and it is hoped they will all be restored by Tuesday.

The military arrived at St John’s Chapel, in Weardale, on Friday, helping partners carry out door-to-door visits to check on residents’ wellbeing.

They also delivered updates to residents on work to restore the power supply, as well as gathering feedback on any issues of concern and identifying where additional support is required.

Their presence is on the back of a request from Durham and Darlington LRF for additional resources to support the work being undertaken across affected communities in the county.

Representatives from Durham County Council, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Durham Constabulary, Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, NHS bodies, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water, the voluntary sector and many other partners have been providing a range of support to residents this week.

A “major incident” was declared in the county on Wednesday and in neighbouring Northumberland on Friday.

The 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.

County council chief executive John Hewitt, who chairs the LRF’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group, said: “We have been working with partners to do everything we can to help residents affected by Storm Arwen since last weekend, and we are extremely grateful for the quick response from the Ministry of Defence to our request for extra support.

“With the assistance of military personnel, we have been able to get more people on the ground and accelerate our recovery effort, continuing to carry out vital welfare checks and deliver support, reassurance and essentials.

“We know that communities are also rallying round and supporting each other, with many groups opening up venues to provide hot food and drinks and individuals checking in on friends and neighbours.

“We’d like to commend local residents for coming together and looking after one another while we try to reach as many people as we can.

“We’re receiving regular updates from Northern Powergrid and are tracking where power is being restored so we can focus our support on the areas which now remain without power.

“This has reduced significantly in the last few days, but we still had in the region of 3,000 properties that did not have a power supply earlier today.

“We will be continuing our multi-agency support across the weekend with partners in the LRF to help residents who are still affected by the aftermath of the storm, whilst Northern Powergrid continue to carry out repairs to the network.”

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

“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.”

Military support will continue over the weekend and will be reviewed over the next few days.

Anyone aware of an older or vulnerable person who needs help, should contact the county council’s customer services team, on (03000) 260000, which is available for 24 hours, with out of hours emergency support available through the council’s Care Connect team.

Loss of power reports can be made to, while a map showing updated information on current power cuts is available at

If someone is without power and is vulnerable, 105 should be called.

A list of community venues offering support can be found at

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