Wales

Wales weather: Businesses count cost of power cuts in storms

  • 17 February 2014
  • From the section Wales
Engineers from ScottishPower working on lines in north Wales
Image caption Engineers worked through the weekend to try and restore power

Small firms in Wales are counting the cost of being without power for up to five days as a result of fierce storms.

Hundreds of properties in north and mid Wales were still cut off over the weekend due to Wednesday's storm.

After engineers faced difficult weather conditions on Saturday, ScottishPower said the majority of properties had been reconnected by Monday.

The power company apologised to one woman who had been unable to pump water to her property for nearly five days.

Meanwhile the Met Office has forecast calmer weather for this week.

By Sunday afternoon, hundreds of ScottishPower customers were still cut off following Wednesday's 100mph storms.

Further bad weather on Friday cut supplies to 1,000 more customers, and "challenging conditions" on Saturday hampered ScottishPower's efforts to restore them.

But the company said on Monday that the majority of properties had been reconnected, withe only a handful possibly still without power.

The company's response to the power cuts has angered farmer Portia Kennaway, in Eglwyseg, Denbighshire.

She said she had received daily texts since Wednesday saying her power would be restored, but she was still without electricity on Sunday afternoon.

"It's so frustrating... we've been treated appallingly," she said.

"Remote farms like ours don't have mains water and depend on water pumped by electricity from boreholes or wells for livestock.

"We've no electricity so we can't get any water. Farmers have been carrying water since Wednesday afternoon to keep livestock alive.

"At the same time we're trying to cope with devastation on farms caused by extreme storm damage, which is known to have hit north Wales hardest out of the whole UK on Wednesday."

'Forgotten and neglected'

Mrs Kennaway said it was "very frustrating to hear congratulatory reports of power companies' restoration of power to hundreds of thousands overnight while we remain five days without power".

"We're exhausted, cold, unwashed, frightened about our livestock's survival, with fridges and freezers full of rotting food," she added.

"We've been forgotten and neglected after suffering some of the worst damage in the UK on Wednesday night."

ScottishPower apologised to Mrs Kennaway "for any poor information she has received", and said it hoped to have restored her power on Sunday night.

Image copyright Océane Toffoli
Image caption Service personnel have been helping with the Aberystwyth promenade clean up
Image copyright Derek Phillips Photography
Image caption Parts of the Welsh coast, including Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, were battered by waves over the weekend

The company said it had encountered further poor weather on Saturday, with strong gusts and heavy rain "that led to challenging conditions for engineers working at height".

ScottishPower added: "We apologise to all customers who have experienced supply problems.

"The storm force winds hit north Wales with greater impact than any other area, causing widespread damage.

"We had a year's worth of faults in less than one day. We have had over 1,000 people responding, working in very difficult conditions, including strong winds and heavy rain.

"The type of jobs we are carrying out are major reconstructions that would usually take several days each in normal circumstances. Around 140,000 properties have been reconnected since the storm struck."

In the Ceiriog Valley, John and Gillian Keen, who run Glyn Ceiriog Post Office near Chirk, were without power for nearly two days before being restored on Friday.

Mr Keen said: "We're under the threat of closure anyway, so the last thing you need is to be losing business because you've got no power."

After nearly two full days without power, he said people in the area became "frustrated", adding: "It appears that we're well down the list.

"If you live in a more rural area - like the Somerset Levels for example - you don't get considered as a high priority or any priority at all possibly."

Tina Price, who runs Plas Mawr bed and breakfast in Eglwysfach, Powys, was without power from Wednesday afternoon until Friday night.

She said: "I have had to turn business away - I guess about £200 in business over three nights. Then of course there's the contents of the freezer."

A pub, hotel, cafe and other small businesses in the area were all affected, she said.

Ms Price said she was "a tiny bit frustrated, but I'm not going to point any fingers at the power companies".

"We're a very small, rural community, so we're not very high up the priority list," she said.

Flood defences

Strong winds and heavy rain battered Wales throughout last week.

On Saturday, 17 people were evacuated from flats in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, after the roof was damaged in strong winds.

The previous day, it was confirmed that Wednesday's storm claimed the life of a Gwynedd man.

Bob Thomas, 77, died in hospital after sustaining head injuries at his home in Caeathro, when a tree fell on him in his garden.

On Sunday, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the Army was to carry out a "rapid inspection" of England's flood defences to assess the damage left by unprecedented flooding.

He said the inspection - which would normally take two years - would be done over the next five weeks.

The Met Office has forecast light rain to spread eastwards on Monday, but says it could be heavy in places, especially on high ground. It forecast winds to be much lighter than recently.

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