Power cuts leave elderly without heat or light for two days

PUBLISHED: 15:38 03 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

ELDERLY people in a retirement park spent two nights without electricity in the bitter cold weather last week. Nearly 1,000 homes in Harpenden lost power last Tuesday night following heavy snowfall. Supplies were reinstated at around 2.30pm on Wednesday b

ELDERLY people in a retirement park spent two nights without electricity in the bitter cold weather last week.

Nearly 1,000 homes in Harpenden lost power last Tuesday night following heavy snowfall.

Supplies were reinstated at around 2.30pm on Wednesday but failed again three hours later.

While most homes had their electricity back on by 9pm on Wednesday, more than 70 people were forced to spend another night without any heating because engineers had failed to notice damage to the line during their patrols.

Some of the homes affected included those on a retirement park in Bowers Heath Lane where power wasn't reinstated until around 4.30pm on Thursday.

Thelma Brazier, who is in her 70s, is one of the younger residents of the park and along with a number of others, she helped out her more vulnerable neighbours.

She said that one of them was an elderly man in his 80s who eventually had to leave his home to stay with his daughter because he was so cold.

Willow Court care home in Aldwickbury Crescent was also affected by the power cuts but had its electricity back for Wednesday night.

Manager Katie Coles said that she had to go and collect blankets from other care homes in St Albans within the same company to keep the elderly people warm.

On Wednesday the home also had to cancel the day care service which 12 elderly people normally attend.

Katie said: "We had nothing - no phones, no heating, no electricity. We had to go and get all our fish and chips from Jack's in Harpenden and all our cups of tea from Simmons."

But she said the elderly residents coped well and remained in "high spirits".

A spokesperson for EDF Energy said that engineers had to abandon work to locate the fault on Tuesday night due the poor weather conditions.

She said that no damage was found when the patrol of the lines continued on Wednesday and that power was reinstated in the afternoon, although it failed again soon afterwards.

The 70 homes which remained without power on Wednesday night were affected by a fault on the overhead power lines which had gone unnoticed, she added.

It was finally discovered during a second line patrol on Thursday and after repairs were made and tree branches were trimmed back, the final customers got their power back.

The spokesperson said that EDF "sincerely" apologised to all of those affected.

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