Networks count cost of storm St Jude in fourth day of disruption

Just over 4,000 households are facing a fourth day without power as distribution network operators count the cost of storm St Jude.

Winds gusting up to 99mph ripped through the southern UK in the early hours of Monday morning, leaving a trail of downed power lines.

UK Power Networks, which bore the brunt of the heavy weather, had fixed power cuts to the majority of 700,000 customers affected by Thursday morning. However, some 3,800 in the East of England and 480 in the South East remained off supply.

Matt Rudling, director of customer services at UK Power Networks, said he was “confident that we can return virtually all properties’ power supplies by the end of today”. Help centres have been set up in Suffolk, the worst hit county, to hand out hot drinks and snacks as well as information.

UKPN said it was the worst storm they had coped with since 2002 and there was “extensive damage” to repair.

Engineers and support staff have been drafted in from as far afield as Ireland to help clean up the mess. Irish network ESB dispatched 16 crews to join the effort on Wednesday morning, while others came from Yorkshire, Liverpool, South Wales and the Midlands.

Southern Electric Power Distribution had restored power to all affected customers by 6pm on Wednesday, the company said. At the nadir of disruption, around 110,000 homes and businesses were off supply in its region.

Over the first half of the week, SEPD engineers repaired more than 1,000 overhead power lines and installed 50 mobile generators.

Stuart Hogarth, director of distribution at SEPD, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has been affected by the loss of power for their patience. We have successfully restored power in some very challenging conditions. Although power has now been restored, our work is not yet complete. We will still have a presence in some areas over the next few days to carry out further repairs and follow-up work to restore the network to normal operations. “

Western Power Distribution had fixed power cuts to around 5,000 customers by Tuesday morning.