MP Damian Hinds: Community spirit helped us through Storm Eunice

Friday 25th February 2022 7:00 am
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Reader Simon Farrant took this photo of a fallen tree blocking the road at Picketts Hill, Headley ()

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ARWEN, Barra, Corrie, Dudley, Eunice and now Franklin. This winter’s storms have certainly made their presence felt, with so many households losing power and many others facing the risk and devastation of flooding.

The tragic death of the young man killed in his prime close to Alton is the clearest, most awful manifestation of the potency of nature, and the great personal tragedy that can be wrought.

The impact locally was certainly significant but also varied.

Many of us experienced days of outages, but with some near neighbours free of interruption.

Towns and villages witnessed a patchwork of cuts, demonstrating the localised impact of wind and tree damage on power lines and infrastructure.

The immediate offer of help across our communities was truly amazing. Social media pages were full of individuals offering help to neighbours and their wider community.

Ready to open their doors to those needing showers, hot drinks, baby bottles warmed or just a hot water bottle, it yet again showed the compassion and generosity of so many people across East Hampshire, able and willing to help others in need.

And it wasn’t just individuals – local businesses also stepped up with offers of food and drinks – and I would also like to extend personal thanks to our emergency services, highways teams and the Environment Agency working in such difficult conditions to help people.

Our local power supplier – SSEN – faced multiple and complex issues because of storm damage and, I know, worked tirelessly in their efforts to restore power to thousands of homes across East Hampshire and their wider area.

At the time of writing this, SSEN has confirmed around 170 residents across the wider East Hampshire (district council) area remained off supply, and the expectation was these faults would have been rectified by 11pm on Wednesday (February 23).

The value of the internet and mobile technology certainly comes into its own at times like this, but clearly its vulnerability is also exposed when access to either is lost, which it was for many of us locally.

Many of those most in need of help may not have ready access to the internet and those important messages, and call centre services, were certainly under pressure. 

Registering with a supplier’s priority service may be appropriate, so now is a good time to consider whether you or someone you know needs that extra support in the event of another threat to their power supply.

One of the most remarkable advantages of modern technology is we now generally have much better advance warning of storms. The Met Office are able to give a good indication of timings and locations for impacts, and that certainly helps to identify areas likely to need the most support.

The need to create clear and simple messaging and warnings was in fact the reason the convention for naming storms and hurricanes began. 

The US National Hurricane Centre started naming hurricanes in the 1950s and then storms from the Atlantic basin during the 1970s.

The Met Office launched their own ‘name our storms’ campaign in 2015, issuing a new list of names each September.

A storm will be named when it has the potential to cause an amber or red warning, although other weather types will also be considered, specifically rain if its impact could lead to flooding, or even snow.

We should make sure we are as prepared as we can be for the potential arrival of Gladys, Herman or even Imani. For more information, including priority services and compensation, please go to https://www.damianhinds.com/news/update-storm-eunice-and-franklin

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