Communities have banded together to offer “invaluable” help to those struggling without power or water as thousands continue to experience the “horrendous” after effects of Storm Arwen.
Gale-force winds rushed through the north and north-east on Friday as the furious winter storm got a grip of the region – causing disruption to all matters of life.
Residents were advised to stay cooped in and avoid travelling as the devastating gusts swept across the country bringing down trees and parts of buildings along the way.
About 80,000 properties in the north of Scotland were still without power on Saturday morning as emergency services started to pick up the pieces from the adverse weather.
Two days later, residents continue to live through the “nightmare” aftermath of Storm Arwen – with more than 38,000 homes still without power or water supplies.
Offering a ‘place of safety’ as ‘major incident unfolds’
Communities across the north-east have now stepped in to help with the recovery from the extensive destruction and offer shelter, power and hot food to those struggling.
With rural areas in Aberdeenshire being among those most affected, residents in Ellon joined forces to provide a “place of safety” for people in need.
The Ellon Community Resilience Group, which was launched after the devastation of Storm Frank in 2016, has set up a welfare hub in the town’s Victoria Hall to offer support once again.
Volunteers spent the day offering tea, coffee and food, as well as organising access to microwaves for hot meals, kettles, water, chargers and Wi-Fi.
Tessa Carr, chairwoman of the group, fears although the worst of the storm might be over, the aftermath is an “unfolding major incident” with hundreds now unable to get the essentials for their families and livestock.
She said: “I think it’s just getting worse now because we still have a lot of people without any power – all of the communities surrounding Ellon and across Aberdeenshire are really struggling.
“It’s so awful out there right now, so I thought now is the time to step in and get things moving with setting up welfare hubs out in the communities that are affected.
“It’s a major incident unfolding.
“We thought this will be a short issue, but this has been going on for 48 hours now so we need to get that help to people.”
In effort to reach all in need, the group has also partnered with Cotag 4×4 Response to provide deliveries and lifts to vulnerable residents and families in more remote locations.
‘Invaluable’ community support in the aftermath of Storm Arwen
A team of dedicated volunteers will be delivering essentials such as food, nappies and baby milk within an eight-mile radius, as well as help carers and nurses get to patients.
Ms Carr added that the biggest issue is the lack of phone reception due to the damage on the line, when many families have been cut off due to fallen trees blocking the roads in the region.
She said: “The part that the community plays in all this is invaluable. But at this stage it’s just horrendous, because there is no way of even contacting them – that’s been a real nightmare.
“I’m trying to get help to those people who don’t have burners in their homes or don’t have any back-up family-wise to support them.
“It’s great to see neighbours and friends reaching out and helping each other but I think it kind of needs a bit more input now.”
Aberdeenshire and Moray communities step in to help
Dozens of other community groups and businesses across Aberdeenshire and Moray have also mobilised their efforts in providing relief to those in need while awaiting power to be restored.
Lossiemouth Community Council has also been hard at work for the last two days to offer alternatives to people without access to washing machines, water and hot food.
The town’s Lossie Youth Cafe has remained open to all to use their facilities and get a cup of warm drink, while locals could drop containers with water for people to take home.
Hot food vans offering free meals were also set up in Cullen, Keith, Kintore, Turriff and Tarland, alongside several community centres across the region who opened their doors for those struggling.