Almost 17,000 properties in Scotland suffered power cuts for a fifth day due to Storm Arwen, with Nicola Sturgeon saying those facing the “almost intolerable” situation would receive help as soon as possible.
The majority of those without electricity are expected to be reconnected by the end of Tuesday, but some will have to wait until later in the week.
Engineers from power companies are working to restore supply to areas around Scotland, with the north-east and south-west particularly hard hit by the outages.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said Storm Arwen was a “more significant” weather event than the Beast from the East in 2018, bringing winds of “incredible ferocity” from an unusual northerly direction.
Ms Sturgeon posted a series of tweets on Tuesday afternoon, saying: “The storm has caused – and is still causing – significant challenges and hardship for many people and communities.
“The impact for the almost 17,000 in Scotland still without power is very severe.
“I understand how distressing this is and my thoughts are with those coping with an almost intolerable situation.
“Please be assured that effort is under way to reconnect people as fast as is safe.”
Mr Swinney also updated the Scottish Parliament on the Government’s response to the storm.
He said: “To give a sense of the scale of his event, Storm Arwen has been a more significant event than the Beast from the East in 2018, requiring a complexity of response that we have not seen for a number of years.”
Just before midday on Tuesday, there were 16,743 customers who were still without power, he said.
At the peak of the disruption, 126,000 Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and 79,500 Scottish Power customers were affected.
Repairs were being prioritised for care homes and those with medical needs, he said, urging people who were still without power to seek help from their local council.
Mr Swinney added: “My expectation is that most of the remaining customers’ supply will be restored today.
“But I regret, for some of the more complex cases, supply is unlikely to be restored until later in the week.”
The Deputy First Minister also faced questions about the Scottish Government’s response to Storm Arwen.
Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said there was an “appalling lack of planning”.
Pubs, community centres and hotels had “stepped up” to help those affected by the storm, Mr Kerr said.
Saying the costs of clearing up from the storm would be “astronomical”, he asked: “What financial help will be made available to our underfunded local authorities to help, and will the Scottish Government be taking the UK Government up on the offer of assistance?”
Mr Swinney said he did not have operational control over power companies, which had been dealing with a storm of “incredible ferocity”.
He said he would “look with care” at the offer, adding: “The United Kingdom Government is awful good with words on these questions but not very good at following it up with substance.”
Earlier, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said it would reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.
Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “Our engineers continue to make good progress and we aim to restore the majority of homes currently off supply through the course of today.
“We would once again like to apologise to all customers affected by Storm Arwen and assure them all efforts are being made to accelerate restoration where possible.
“We are, however, still experiencing challenging conditions and multiple faults on individual circuits, with complex repairs under way that are taking longer than normal to rectify.”
Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments of up to £15 per person.
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