HUNDREDS of households left without power for 11 days are bracing themselves for a second battering of bad weather today as Storm Barra blows across the country.

Gusty winds, sleet and heavy rain has been forecast as engineers continue the mammoth task of reconnecting communities to the electricity supply.

Winds of up to 98mph during Storm Arwen on November 26 brought down trees and power cables and it is understood 700 homes in the region are still without electricity.

Northern Powergrid has said it aims to complete repairs today, but the Met Office has issued a new yellow weather warning with winds of up 65mph in places.

People have been advised not to travel unless it is necessary, and council gritters have been sent out to stop roads icing over.

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In County Durham, where there are around 500 homes without power, the Army will continue to help support those affected.

Around 80 members of the Royal Lancers are carrying out welfare checks, providing advice and information and delivering emergency supplies.

'The military over the weekend has enabled us to strengthen support'

John Hewitt, chairman of the Local Resilience Forum’s Strategic Coordinating Group and chief executive of Durham County Council, said: “The additional support provided by the military over the weekend has enabled us to strengthen and accelerate the support we are providing to residents.

“With some properties still offline, it is important that we continue to maintain the level of support to residents that we are currently providing.

“For that reason, we submitted a further Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA) request to the Ministry of Defence and they have approved it.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our dedicated armed forces personnel are working side by side with civil authorities to provide essential support to communities impacted by Storm Arwen.

“The ability to deploy quickly to wherever in the UK assistance is requested makes us all safer and ensures we are able to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Northern Powergrid said it will reimburse customers who have had to make alternative arrangements while repair work is being carried out.

A statement on the company website said: “We will contribute to other reasonably incurred costs and will consider each customer’s circumstances on a case-by-case basis.”

It is offering to cover accommodation and food, up to £15 per person per meal, but the company has faced criticism that it could take up to three months for people to be compensated.

'Utterly unacceptable'

In a joint statement MPs Richard Holden and Dehenna Davison, said: “For our constituents across North West Durham and Bishop Auckland to have to wait up to three months for compensation, especially in the run up to Christmas, is utterly unacceptable.

“We are glad ministers are exerting maximum pressure on Northern Powergrid to get this timeframe reduced but it’s time for Northern Powergrid to step up and ensure that all our constituents get the compensation they deserve as soon as possible.”

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