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North-east man stuck in wheelchair for three days during Storm Arwen power cuts

Troops are deployed in Aberdeenshire to assist following Storm Arwen.
Troops are deployed in Aberdeenshire to assist following Storm Arwen.

A man was left stuck in a wheelchair for three days during the “harrowing” aftermath of Storm Arwen, MSPs were told.

Thousands of people across across the north-east were left without power, water and phone signal, when the storm battered Scotland in November.

Alexander Burnett, who represents Aberdeenshire West, raised the individual’s plight during a Holyrood debate led by north-east MSP Tess White. 

The man – who is in his fifties and lives in the Deeside area – was left unable to move from his chair because his hoist could not be powered.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Alexander Burnett.

The Conservative MSP told parliament: “I sadly heard from people who were isolated and hadn’t heard from anyone for days including one constituent who was stuck in his wheelchair for three days because the hoist couldn’t be powered.

“Stuck in a chair in front of a fire for that length of time is beyond most people’s imagination and was certainly the most harrowing example I came across.”

He said “priority lists were not being shared and consolidated” and visits from health and care partnerships  teams were “not being communicated to others”.

Call for ‘significant investment’

Other MSPs highlighted steps they would like to see taken forward ahead of any future storms.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin called for households to be given information indicating where local hubs will always be for their local area in “any emergency”.

She also said there should be “significant investment” in installing power lines underground as “trees were falling down and taking power lines down”.

And added that “everyone should be recommended to have a battery-operated radio in general in their household” so they can access up to date information.

Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across Aberdeen. Pictured is Scotstown Road.

The Scottish Government published a review into how the country responded to the “exceptional” Storm Arwen earlier this year.

It made a total of 15 recommendations on how to improve the way councils, police and health boards respond to such incidents.

Ms White called on the Scottish Government to commit to “deliverable timescales” for acting upon the review’s recommendations before winter.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney assured the MSP that “this would be the case”.

John Swinney.

Officials are working with local resilience partnerships – made up of councils, health boards and police divisions – in making improvements.

He said one of the common issues that has been raised is “access to communications” and the “significant dependence society now has on digital connectivity”.

The SNP MSP added: “The power companies have to respond to that by having in place better sources of information that are advertising information in advance of incidents so individuals are better prepared.”

A further update on implementation of the recommendation’s is due to be provided by the Scottish Government next month.

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