Families say Christmas was ruined after days of power outages
- Credit: Samantha Lingwood
Families have said their Christmases were ruined after a power outage left them unable to cook or heat their homes, as communities did their best to pull together amid Tier 4 rules.
For some in Shipdham, near Dereham, the power outage started on Christmas Eve, while for others the lights went out just as they were cooking their Christmas dinner.
Many spent the majority of the festive weekend with intermittent power and no means of cooking, lighting or heating their homes. As of Monday, some were still facing outages.
At one point more than 130 properties in Shipdham were without electricity. Villagers said problems were made worse when generators, supplied by UK Power Networks (UKPN) to maintain the power supply, repeatedly ran out of fuel. The body has since apologised for the outage.
Samantha Lingwood said when the power went out in her home in Park Highatt Drive at about 6.30pm on Christmas Eve she and her family initially thought it was "a bit of fun".
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She said the family spent the evening singing carols by candle light but they "started to lose their sense of humour" when the power went off again on Christmas Day and by Boxing Day had lost it entirely.
Mrs Lingwood said when they again lost power at 12.30pm on December 25 they had to finish cooking their Christmas lunch on the barbecue.
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She said the situation had been made more stressful by the fact her husband, who has type one diabetes, keeps his insulin in the fridge and the longer the fridge was without power the more concerned they were the medicine would spoil.
Mrs Lingwood said between December 24 and 27 the family went without power for a cumulative 30 hours and 45 minutes.
"I just think it's ruined Christmas, it really has," she said.
Mrs Lingwood said she felt UKPN could have handled the situation better.
"I know UKPN couldn't predict the faults, I understand that but when you hear the generators ran out of fuel, that's a bit ridiculous," she said. "It's just errors that could have been avoided and stupid errors that shouldn't happen."
In the same street, Carla Knight, whose family is self-isolating, said not being able to leave the house to access supplies or help had made the weekend even trickier. She said: "It's been a nightmare.
"I just think in this day and age, mistakes happen and we understand that but at the end of the day it's not difficult to put fuel in a machine."
In Mews Court, on Larwood Way in the village, Samantha Shelley said the power cuts had created chaos and mayhem.
Mrs Shelley who is a Shipdham parish councillor, said their community had tried to rally around to help each other but it was difficult with Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions.
She said: "There's good community spirit but it's complicated by the whole coronavirus situation and on Christmas Day. We all rallied around and people were dashing to Tesco to buy battery lanterns, candles, things like that."
Carole Playford, chairperson of Shipdham Parish Council, said it had been a "travesty", and on Twitter George Freeman, Mid Norfolk MP, said there had been an "appalling" response from UKPN.
In response to the complaints, a spokesperson for UKPN, said: "We would like to apologise to people in the Shipdham area who have been without power for periods since Christmas Eve. We appreciate many people are staying at home so it is particularly difficult to be without power – and this is not the usual high standard of service we provide."
UKNP said a "combination of problems" had contributed to the problems in Shipdham including "complex faults on underground cables" and temporary generators "not working properly".
The spokesperson, said: "Our engineers are working on-site completing repairs, and have been dealing with incidents as they occur 24/7, including during Storm Bella.
"We will be contacting customers who are eligible for a payment."
The organisation said it would also be providing a support vehicle to the village and would be contacting customers eligible.