A plan for how County Durham would respond to the devastation of a weather event similar to Storm Arwen has been revealed as part of a review into the crisis last year.

The storm, which brought torrential rain and high winds to the region, hit on November 26 last year – leaving more than 14,860 residents without power, many for several days before electricity was ultimately restored to all properties on December 9.

During the crisis, the response of Northern Powergrid and other agencies was criticised as one of the reasons why power remained off at properties for so long.

Read more: Storm Arwen hits roads, rail and properties across North East and Yorkshire

In the aftermath of Storm Arwen, different groups has been reviewing their response and what could be done to ensure something of that scale never happens again.

As part of this, Durham County Council’s Cabinet will next week be asked to agree to the implementation of the plan, drawn up by officers following a thorough review of the response to the storm locally. 

The meeting on Wednesday (July 13) will be presented with the results of that review, and the content of the plan, which sets out a need to expand community resilience and improve incident planning and preparedness.

The Northern Echo: Trees are felled during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHOTrees are felled during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

Cabinet will be told that for its review, the council spoke to officers who responded to the storm; councillors; community organisations and parish councils which responded to the incident, and the public.

The meeting will be asked to agree a series of recommendations including that the council agrees to support the expansion of community resilience support across the county, as well as the provision of improved training for councillors and officers on emergency planning.

Cabinet will also be asked to agree to the council sharing the report with Northern Powergrid and the LRF.

The Northern Echo: Cars are crushed during the adverse weather event. Picture: PA MEDIACars are crushed during the adverse weather event. Picture: PA MEDIA

The report sets out how County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum (LRF), the council and Northern Powergrid responded to the storm and how, at the request of the local authority, a major incident was declared on December 1 amid uncertainty about how long power would be off.

Cabinet will be reminded how the council asked for military assistance as a result of which the Army was deployed.

Cllr John Shuttleworth, the council’s Cabinet member for rural communities, highways and community safety, said: “Storm Arwen was unprecedented in terms of the impact it had right across Britain.

The Northern Echo: A car is buried in bricks from a house. Picture: PA MEDIAA car is buried in bricks from a house. Picture: PA MEDIA

“We know thousands of people in mainly rural areas of County Durham were without power for significant periods, and we understand what a difficult time this was and the challenges it posed.

“Like other agencies involved in the response we have been keen to look back at how events unfolded, with a view to identifying anything that could have been done differently, and to get the views of residents and other stakeholders to ensure our review is as thorough and robust as possible.

“What the review confirmed is the way in which people from various organisations and members of the public rallied round to assist those in need and we would like to pay tribute to everyone who helped in any way.”

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