Hundreds of rural residents waited days for power to be restored after Storm Arwen
Yesterday, around 350 homes in the vicinity of Callander were still without power – four days after Storm Arwen plunged communities into darkness.
Villagers were left without power when high winds knocked down trees and power lines, blocking a number of key roads.
Much of the region – including Killin, Callander, Doune, Deanston and Port of Menteith – saw its supplies cut off for three days.
At the time of printing the Observer, blackouts were still in place in Blairhoyle, Ruskie, Port of Menteith and other small groups of rural properties.
Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) was inundated with calls and was on red alert after fallen trees destroyed much of their network.
Until yesterday (Tuesday), SSEN was still working to reconnect communities.
During the night between Monday and Tuesday, the residents of Deanston saw the power restored.
Supplies were also restored to Killin, Strathyre, Callander, Braeval and Lochearnhead.
The energy company said that since lunchtime on Friday, electricity has been restored to 105,000 customers, with another 15,000 across Scotland still without. An estimated 350 of them are in the Stirling area.
The remaining high voltage faults connecting the largest population centers were still working all day yesterday.
However, for localized faults, restore times were likely to extend beyond Tuesday and customers were encouraged to explore alternative arrangements, if necessary.
Rest centers have been established by SSEN at a number of rural community facilities including: Knockraich Farm, Fintry; Strathyre Primary School; Aberfoyle Primary School; and the Doune primary school.
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Stirling council has set up rest centers for affected residents. These were at Doune Primary, Aberfoyle Primary and Killin Nursery.
These were then closed and replaced with a center at the McLaren Community Leisure Center.
Schools, including Port of Menteith and Deanston Elementary Schools, remained closed to students yesterday due to the outage.
Primary schools in Killin and Kippen reopened yesterday.
All schools were to reopen today.
Stirling Council Chief Councilor Scott Farmer thanked the local authority teams for their response to the crisis.
He said: “I am once again impressed with the response from our staff and take my hat off to the officers who were both in the field and working behind the scenes in response to the SSEN network failure.
“Many of our communities were left in the dark over the weekend without heat or power, with some still without power on Tuesday morning. In the midst of this disturbing and at times chaotic scenario, the Stirling Council stepped into the breach.
“For more than 20 months, our teams have been in emergency mode, responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have gone above and beyond to preserve the well-being of our residents as part of a multi-agency response in the event of major disturbances.
“I would like to thank our staff for their exceptional efforts to keep our communities safe, and also thank the local communities themselves for their support and understanding over the past few days.”
In Killin, the blackout saw the community come together. Community Councilor Ron Allner said, “Yesterday showed what a fantastic village Killin is. Cut off with no electricity and freezing temperatures, volunteers visited each home of the elderly and vulnerable to check on their well-being.
The villagers borrowed stoves and gas for everyone without heating which were delivered to many houses. The Capercaillie restaurant opened to provide free food and hot drinks to everyone in the village and people were transported by volunteers.
Many people have donated their homes to anyone in need.
There was further devastation in Stronachlachar, Loch Katrine, after around 20 trees fell on Friday evening. The road through it was closed, the Pier Cafe was damaged and visitors living in the vacation accommodation were trapped there for some time, although no one was injured.
It comes just two years after a series of devastating landslides hit the Loch Katrine area.
In August 2019, mudslides saw 17 people miraculously escape along the north shore. Glengyle’s properties were cut off as tons of mud and debris rolled down the hill during a period of torrential rain. Telephone lines and power to the properties were cut and sections of the road were blocked or damaged.
The Loch Katrine Facebook page said this week: “(This is the) latest in a series of hits to the Steamship Trust over the past two years – 21 landslides on the North Shore, steamship doomed in due to cracked boilers, impact of Covid-19 on trade and now, as we were on the slow road to recovery with plans to begin work on improving the Strony Pier parking lot on Monday. Best plans tattered again but we’ll bounce back! Be careful.”
Blair Drummond Safari Park was forced to close on Saturday because a number of trees fell there. No animals or staff were injured.
The Deanston Distillery was also forced to close due to a power outage.
Mark Rough, Director of Customer Operations at SSEN, said yesterday: “We would like to once again apologize to all customers affected by Storm Arwen and assure them that every effort is being made to expedite the restoration as far as possible. possible.
“However, we still experience tough conditions and multiple faults on individual circuits, with complex repairs going on that take longer than normal to rectify. The extent of the damage is also hampering the ability to reroute the network to restore supply and, unfortunately, recovery times for some customers will extend beyond today.
“In recognition of the significant impact on our customers, we have offered to reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make other arrangements. We would like to thank the communities for their continued support and patience; local partners; and our teams of engineers, tree cutters and support staff who have worked in some of the most difficult conditions we have experienced in decades.
A rural neighborhood councilor found himself without power following Storm Arwen and praised the community’s response to the stressful days for residents.
Trossachs and Teith Ward Councilor Martin Earl, who lives in Brig O’Turk and has seen power to his home cut, said: of the weekend.
“I want to thank everyone involved in clearing the roads as quickly as they did. Some trees were in very dangerous positions and having them removed quickly was much appreciated. I’m concerned that the utility company is providing many unrealistic reconnection times, making it a lot more difficult for those trying to plan for what support might and is needed. “
Stirling MSP Evelyn Tweed said the storm “had wreaked havoc” on communities and also praised “the community spirit”. She said: “The neighbors looked after each other and checked out the vulnerable residents.
“I welcome the response from the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and the Stirling Council, as the storm damage to the electricity grid has been catastrophic – on a worse scale than that of 2018 Beast from the East.
“However, once this crisis is over, serious questions will need to be answered about resilience planning for both organizations. In some cases, settlements have been left in the dark, literally and figuratively, for days as lines of communication and coordination of response crumble.
“Additional planning and resources must be devoted to developing the resilience capacity of the Stirling community, as the limitations of online messaging on social media have become evident as online access has become restricted. “