I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Years break. I know I did. But as we enter a new year and a fresh start, it is worth sparing a thought for the thousands and thousands of people who had their Christmas and New Years ruined by some truly awful weather.
It has been a long time since the UK has suffered from repeated beatings from the weather like this. One after another after another, storms and huge Atlantic weather systems rushed in, causing rivers all over the country to burst their banks and flood thousands and thousands of homes. Accompanying the lashing rains came the sometimes hurricane strength gusts of wind. These knocked over endless amounts of trees and power lines, cutting electricity to tens of thousands of homes. Thousands of families didn’t have their power restored until December 29th. Considering how much we all pay for our bills, that simply isn’t good enough.
We have all suffered in recent years with enormous price hikes for our electricity, gas and water. We pay a lot, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to make sure that power is restored as quickly as possible. But during these storms it seemed to me that the companies responsible for getting everything working again weren’t doing as much as they could.
Some of you may have seen a very frustrated lady giving David Cameron some grief when he visited a storm damaged town. She was complaining that there was very little communication from the power companies, no one was being told what was actually being done to restore power and that provisions were scarce and very little warning was given about the threats of these storms. Unfortunately she wasn’t the only one with those complaints and David Cameron actually seemed to agree that the companies charged with getting things running again had failed to do so in a timely manner.
Quite simply the power companies have failed thousands of people over what should have been one of the most special times of the year. Yes it was Christmas and yes the conditions haven’t been fantastic to work in. But for the amount of money we pay and the extensive network we have in the UK, it shouldn’t have taken nearly a week to get power restored to these families. They have had their holidays ruined and now face the prospect of a cold wet winter trying to put their lives back together.
The weather in this country seems to be getting more extreme. Whether it be snow, rain, wind, sun or otherwise, we don’t just seem to have settled spells it. For whatever reason our weather comes in extremes now and has done for a few years, so I think it’s high time we started to seriously improve our infrastructure to cope with these extremes. Road and rail networks need to be improved so that fallen trees and flood waters can be cleared. Flood defences need to be vastly improved. We need to invest in technology that can create free energy from these extremes such as more wind farms and machines that generate power from the sea. Homeowners also need to be encouraged to make improvements at home so they are more protected from the elements. This includes fitting new windows and doors to help insulate the house better.
But right now, power companies have to learn some lessons from this series of storms. They were caught on the hop and were vastly underprepared to help deal with the aftermath. So many people have suffered and it is imperative that they improve how they go about restoring power, because in some areas of the UK it was just a complete farce.