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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 20:05 GMT
Enduring the power cut misery
Electricity pylons
Thousands are still without power after storms
Home across the UK are still without power following the storms at the weekend. BBC News Online spoke to families who have been affected.

Dealing with a 16-month-old baby, pet dog, and builders fitting a new kitchen may seem hassle enough.

Add a three day power cut and you may well feel at the end of your tether.

Melanie Windley, 32, from Swan Bottom near Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, has had to juggle her attention since storms hit the UK on Sunday.


I'm not worried about compensation I just want some electrics

Melanie Windley

Branches fell on electricity lines near her home in the morning and she has been without power ever since.

She has had to ferry her child back and forth to her mother's home, be back at her house for the builders - whose power tools do not work - and she still cannot find out when she will be reconnected.

"It wouldn't be so bad if we could speak to the engineers at TXU Energi but we can't," she said.

"We have tried day and night as there is not a lot to do in the evenings."

Candles light up the house but the freezer contents have had to be thrown away or distributed to friends who have power.

Generator failure

Design consultant Gareth Jones, from Abington near Cambridge, has also been without power at his home since the storms hit on Sunday afternoon.

He said the main village had power but there were about 60 homes in the surrounding area which had no electricity.

"It has been varying from nothing to between 75 and 150 volts - but not enough to run a fridge freezer," he told BBC News Online.


It looks like it was a problem waiting to happen, bearing in mind we do get weather in the UK

Gareth Jones

"I have been running it on a generator but that went bang at lunchtime. I'm hoping we'll get something back by the time it thaws out."

Mr Jones, 43, said he was lucky to have a gas Rayburn which meant he had heating and cooking facilities. But he is having to use oil lamps for lighting.

"I am somewhat in the dark," he said.

"We were also without power at work for a while, which for a major design consultancy is fairly critical."

Mr Jones said the most frustrating thing was not being able to get an answer from his electricity suppliers TXU Energi.

No contact

He said the situation is worse than during the hurricane in 1987 when the area lost power.

"You just get the platitude machine when you phone up, he said."

Repair work
Engineers have been working hard to restore power
Mr Jones said it raised questions about how the network has been maintained. If fallen trees are to blame, why were cables exposed to that risk, he asked.

"It looks like it was a problem waiting to happen, bearing in mind we do get weather in the UK," he added.

Huge call volume

24seven is the company responsible for providing the electricity to TXU Energi customers and repairing faults.

Communications manager Marjorie McFarlane said the call centre had received half a million calls on Sunday.

"Unfortunately the experience has not been as easy for customers as we would have liked it to be," she said.

She said 300,000 homes were left without power in the East Anglia region on Sunday, but that figure is now down to 17,800.

A team of engineers has been brought over from France to help restore electricity and repair power lines brought down by trees.

Mrs McFarlane said it was a lengthy operation but the company hoped to get most people back by Thursday.

She said people who could not get through on the phone could report faults to stormdamage@24sevennet.com

See also:

29 Oct 02 | England
29 Oct 02 | UK
29 Oct 02 | UK
28 Oct 02 | England
28 Oct 02 | Business
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