More than 90% of people who lost power due to Storm Arwen have had their supply restored, but 45,000 are still in the dark, the Business Secretary has said.
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said on Tuesday afternoon that thousands of engineers were on the ground in northern England and Scotland fixing faults, but those still affected should “make alternative arrangements for accommodation”.
Kwasi Kwarteng tweeted that teams had been “working tirelessly to restore power in affected areas”, adding: “Operators have reassured me they are doing all they can to prioritise the vulnerable and those who have been without power for a considerable period.”
A spokesperson for the ENA said: “Supporting and reconnecting customers is our absolute priority and our customer teams are working around the clock to contact customers and keep them informed.
“We are also working with other utilities, local authorities, emergency services and the British Red Cross to support this effort.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “extremely sympathetic” to those impacted by the power outages.
“It must be appalling. I think a million homes lost their electricity and 950,000 have seen that electricity now restored, but clearly for 50,000 people that is not good enough, and I want to reassure everybody that we’re working as hard as we can to get power back to those homes.
“All I can say is that the gusts were going at 100mph and, talking to the people who operate the grid, that they say that they had absolutely… there was nothing that they could do about it, but we are doing everything we can to restore power, talking to Northern Powergrid and everybody else to get that fixed.
“I appreciate it must be a very, very tough time for those homes that are currently without power.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posted a series of tweets on Tuesday afternoon, saying: “The storm has caused – and is still causing – significant challenges and hardship for many people and communities.
“The impact for the almost 17,000 in Scotland still without power is very severe.
“I understand how distressing this is and my thoughts are with those coping with an almost intolerable situation.
“Please be assured that effort is under way to reconnect people as fast as is safe.”
MPs heard that Northern Powergrid believes the damage is “more extensive than initially realised”, with Conservative MP Richard Holden (North West Durham) warning some households are “potentially facing weeks without electricity”.
He said: “This morning we were informed by Northern Powergrid that the damage is more extensive than initially realised with some households potentially facing weeks without electricity.
“My understanding is BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has offered military aid to the civil authorities (Maca) this weekend, but Northern Powergrid refused it.”
The Met Office’s Stephen Dixon said the weather will be “turning colder” from Wednesday due to a northerly wind, adding: “Winds will be especially high in exposed coastal areas in the North and North East, with gusts in excess of 40mph expected.
“The cool conditions will see some snow fall in the high ground of the far North, and generally as sleet or rain in low ground.
“That theme continues into Thursday, with a band of rain moving in from the West later in the day.”
Forestry England urged people to stay away from woods in much of northern England after Storm Arwen.