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‘I don’t think anyone has a realisation of how terrible it is’: Fyvie farmer’s wife says more needs to be done to protect vulnerable following Storm Arwen

A snow-struck Fyvie has been severely affected following Storm Arwen, leaving residents without power or water.

A farmer’s wife has described the desperate efforts they are making to keep their livestock healthy after being without power for nearly a week.

Carolyn and George Maniukiewicz farm near Fyvie, and like many of their neighbours have been without electricity or heat since Storm Arwen battered the area last Friday.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) told the residents it would be midnight tonight at the earliest before their supplies were restored.

As of noon today, SSEN said 2,400 homes in Aberdeenshire are still without power.

Some locals, including the Maniukiewicz family, also do not have any water as they are not connected to the mains supply. Instead, the water in the area comes from a well which is operated by an electric pump.

This means Mr Maniukiewicz has been manually lifting water from the well with a pail to ensure his cattle are watered. He has, however, managed to get a generator to keep them warm.

His wife said it is a constant race against the clock to get the extra jobs done before darkness falls at 3.30pm.

The family has already lost one calf after it was born in the first night of black-outs, leaving Mr Maniukiewicz unable to see if it needed help.

Mrs Maniukiewicz said: “Nobody has had a proper wash, you can’t peel potatoes, you can’t do anything because you’ve got nothing to cook on anyway, you can’t flush the toilets. It’s like the Dark Ages.

“I don’t think anyone has a realisation of how terrible it is.”

Residents in Fyvie are relying on candles after spending several days with no electricity. Supplied by Mrs Maniukiewicz.

Their house has no heating and they gave their spare gas heaters to her 96-year-old mother-in-law, who lives on her own.

Her daughter lives close by and they have been going to her house which also has no power or water, but has a wood-burning stove.

‘Three steps back, one step forward’

However, Mrs Maniukiewicz said not all of her neighbours are so fortunate to have family close by.

She said: “My biggest concern is for those that are vulnerable. It’s not for me, it’s for everybody else who is vulnerable and the people who don’t have families close.

“If it wasn’t for the community and people trying to pull together and everybody trying to help, there has been no public sector support whatsoever.

“Had we lived in the central belt, quite honestly, this would have been fixed ages ago.”

She claimed her 94-year-old neighbour has been in bed since Friday to stay warm, while a couple with young children had to flee to stay with family in Fraserburgh.

Winds of up to 100mph hit Fyvie on Friday, causing damage to buildings and blowing over trees – with Mr Maniukiewicz out in his tractor early on Saturday to clear the route.

Large trees in the area were blown over or uprooted during the storm. However, Mr Maniukiewicz and other residents have managed to clear their roads of the fallen trees. Picture by Duncan Brown.

The family’s double-sized garage shed was “smashed to smithereens” and everything inside it was destroyed, and, after being told to stock up for Christmas, the food in the freezer is now spoiled.

Their shed was destroyed during Storm Arwen. Supplied by Mrs Maniukiewicz.

Mrs Maniukiewicz, who owns business Ideas in Partnership has also been unable to work since losing power.

She said: “We’ve just literally got back into thinking about doing things after Covid and I feel like it’s three steps backwards, one step forward.

“I’ve got no internet connections, no means of phoning other than my mobile and the only way I can get my mobile charged is by sitting in the car.”

Residents are getting ‘very angry’

Luckily, the community has rallied together and those with a mains water supply have been providing their neighbours with water.

However, the businesswoman claimed people are beginning to get “very angry” at the lack of communication.

She believes the authorities should have been out knocking on doors to check on the vulnerable, or providing hot food and water but praised the engineers working day-and-night to get the power back on.

“We’ve heard nothing from councillors, members of parliament or Aberdeenshire Council – nobody has contacted us,” she said.

“I think there’s going to be a disaster once this is all over, there’s a lot of vulnerable people that have just been left abandoned.”

Earlier today, Aberdeenshire Council’s request for military assistance resulted in the arrival of nearly 150 troops who will be working to assist communities still left in dark.

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