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‘Whatever people need, just ask’: Military deployed to help get Grampian communities back on their feet in the wake of Storm Arwen

The military troops will be performing welfare checks in Aberdeenshire. Photo: Kenny Elrick/DCT Media

Hundreds of armed forces personnel are being deployed across the north-east to support those cut off by Storm Arwen.

With around 3,100 homes still without access to power or running water, army engineers will be assisting SSEN staff with repairs.

Head of Aberdeenshire Council, Jim Savege said: “The scale of the event that we are trying to deal with here is unprecedented.

“We have been checking to see if we need any more resources to help assist communities.

“The absolute bedrock of support has come from community members rolling up their sleeves and checking in on those who need help – we can’t thank people enough along with the police, fire, Red Cross and the council.”

Constantly changing timescale

With cellular service being knocked out in certain areas it has been difficult for assistance teams to liaise with Aberdeenshire Council.

SSEN engineers initially estimated that power would be fully restored by the end of last weekend.

However, as circumstances have changed, so too has the repair timeline – prompting Aberdeenshire Council to reach out for military support.

Jim Savege, Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council.<br />Picture by Chris Sumner

Mr Savege added: “We came to a decision on Tuesday that we needed to get more volunteer support in – until then we had been happy that we were supporting the most vulnerable people who were registered with us.

“But, we have had a concern about those people who have done okay but the ever-extending timescale of this is just making things harder for them.”

As time goes on, council bosses will continually assess if more resources can be dedicated to clearing up the devastation left behind by the storm.

Unsure how long military support will be needed

Support from the military will involve teams of soldiers knocking on doors and taking on wellbeing concerns, while staff from 39 engineer regiment out of Kinloss will assist with repairs.

It is currently unclear as to when they will no longer be needed or when communities across the Grampian region will fully bounce back.

Lieutenant Colonel Katy Badham-Thornhill

Lieutenant Colonel Katy Badham-Thornhill said: “Last night we received approval to give military assistance to Aberdeenshire Council in the aftermath of Storm Arwen.

“Our task is to work with the very fluid and changing situation on the ground, with the power outage our main priority is to ensure that all the residents in Aberdeenshire have been contacted with vulnerable people being prioritised.”

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