Brenda has to crawl upstairs to use the toilet! Ben Shephard rages at electricity chief
Ben Shephard grills Ross Easton on UK power problems
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The ITV Good Morning Britain host grilled Ross Easton, from the Energy Networks Association, after 4,000 to 5,000 properties are still without power in the county after Storm Arwen, according to John Hewitt, from Durham County Council. One resident Brenda Brain, who is in her 70s, from Bishop Auckland is forced to “crawl upstairs on all fours” to use the toilet as she cannot use her stairlift. Ben Shephard asked the power chief on Friday: “Hopefully by early next week you are hoping that most customers if not all of them will have their power back?”
Mr Easton said: “We’re working flat out to make sure that they’re reconnected as quickly as we possibly can.
“We’re bringing generators in as well. We’ve got people on the ground trying to get everything reconnected.
“In one instance in County Durham, we have found that there are 30 miles of electricity that needs rebuilding.”
Mr Shephard interjected: “You’re still discovering the problems?”
The energy chief continued: “We have been discovering them. We’ve made the use of helicopters and drones to make sure we can get into those rural locations to see exactly what is going on.”
Mr Shephard noted: “And that’s only happening now? Why did that not happen straight away?”
Mr Easton said: “The weather conditions have been extremely challenging.
“On a couple of days earlier in the week we couldn’t get helicopters up there.
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“The road conditions have been blocked, we can’t get access. There has been 100 electricity poles taken down. This is Labour intensive.”
Mr Shephard added: “Clearly you are working very hard, we can see that and we can hear that, but the communication of what’s going on.
“Brenda has to crawl up the stairs because she can’t use her stairlift, on all fours.”
Mrs Brain previously told the Northern Echo: “We’re luckier than most – we’ve had a few comforts during this time, but it’s terrible that we can’t have our full power.
“Wherever you turn, Northern Powergrid is giving us mixed messages about when the power will come back on. Some have said today, some have said next weekend – I think we just want to know.
“The community spirit shown by neighbours is second to none – I’ve lived here 49 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this – we just want answers.”
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It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said around 130 troops have been sent to the Grampian region of northern Scotland, where 3,000 homes are still dark following damage to power lines over the past week.
Troops will conduct door-to-door checks on more than 4,000 homes, and provide welfare support for remote communities.
Mr Johnson said: “It was a very, very big storm. We are doing everything we can to to help people.
“There were about 19,000 homes without (power) this morning. We have got that down to about 16,000.
“That is no consolation for the 16,000 who are still suffering but we are working flat out to help you.”
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