Thursday 5 January 2012: Getting it back on
The situation in Argyll and Bute remains serious in terms of power supplies and mobile phone provision after Tuesday's terrible storm. SSE has had over 700 staff out in the field working on the lines, like this group in Cowal today. They included power workers from Wales and England , drafted in to help. They are doing a magnificent job in very difficult conditions.
6000 customers in Bute have been off all day (and without phones until 3.00pm) but should come on this evening. However that may leave as many as 1400 in Argyll and its islands without power for a third night though great efforts are being made to keep that number as low as possible.
SSE and Argyll & Bute Council have been working together to provide support for those affected including some hot food at various places (details here). They are also encouraging people to ring in if they have fears about their neighbours or are having difficulty themselves. In addition they are making arrangements, with the police, to contact as many individual customers who have no power as they can. Hopefully all will be re-connected tomorrow.
On the West road in Glendaruel the full scale of the damage is apparent. Trees have been uprooted everywhere , proving to any observer that this was a truly exceptional event , certainly the most destructive in Argyll and the West of Scotland for many years. I keep hearing accounts of houses wrecked or badly damaged yet the commonest complaint, apart from power, is about mobile phones.
We all rely on them now, but the companies seem to be very slow in taking the necessary action to restore anything like a normal service. In Argyll 75% of the Vodafone cells are still not operating and 50% of the O2 ones are out of commission. One O2 mast - that on Tiree - has been inoperable since the gale of December 8th, with the company lamely claiming that it has had difficulty getting an engineer onto a ferry since then ! In contrast British Telecom had a new generator in Bute very promptly today and a team was speedily despatched to Skipness to restore the emergency service after a backup power failure.