Disabled County Durham man who went without power for 12 days reflects on Storm Arwen

Paul Webster, from Rookhope in Weardale, was trapped in his living room when his power went out leaving him without the use of his stairlift. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A disabled County Durham man who was left without power for 12 days during Storm Arwen says that he is preparing for a tough winter.

Paul Webster, from Rookhope in Weardale, was trapped in his living room when the storm cut off the power needed for his electric stairlift.

Mr Webster, who was left disabled after a stroke, relied on his neighbours bringing him food from the burger van parked outside his home, or cooked with the little food he had left using heat from his coal fire.

Reflecting on that time, Mr Webster said: "It was chaotic. Nobody knew what was happening.

"So I made plans. I ordered a generator and stuff from a supply company. The army came to make sure I was alright with the council."

Mr Webster was forced to sleep downstairs while he waited for his electricity to return.

He said: "There's a stairlift charger but it only lasts for so long. So I didn't use the stairlift, I just dragged myself up with a handrail."

A year on, Mr Webster said some work had been done to replace insulation and that he has a generator in the outhouse in the event of power cuts.

He said: "What I learned last time is that I know how to continue through. I'll be ready for it this time."

Northern Powergrid said it was "very sorry for the difficulties" customers faced during Storm Arwen.

The company said it has now invested more money into their communications systems, allowing customers to contact them "however they want to".

Emergency generators to get power back on quicker in similar future events have also been brought in by the firm.

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