The winter months can throw all sorts at us in the northeast, possibly bringing snow or ice, high winds and power disruption or flooding.
The Council and other partners will always try to deliver as many services as they can, no matter the situation, but the reality is that they might also be impacted.
To help communities prepare, a leaflet and door drop are getting underway, to provide guidance on steps to help get prepared and be ready for disruption. It can be simple actions, but they will improve the personal or household resilience of individuals across Aberdeenshire.
The leaflet contains some important information, guidance, and signposting to additional support. The headlines: You might need to be self-sufficient for 72 hours. So now is a good time to get prepared.
The leaflet is broken down into sections: alerts to sign up for, things to do before a storm arrives, and some advice about what to do if the “lights go out”. You can find a copy of the leaflet on council website and social media channels. It has also been issued to councillors, community councils and known resilience groups across Aberdeenshire.
The publication comes just after a severe flooding event and just before the first anniversary of Storm Arwen.
As a result of Storm Arwen, the North-East of Scotland experienced the following:
60,000 homes had no power in the first 48 hours 200 separate faults to the power network (equal to two years’ worth in one night) 8,000 homes remained without power for a further 7 days Loss of power created significant impact on telephone network and complete Loss of digital and mobile telephony in several rural areas Loss of mains supplied Scottish Water due to loss of power in several settlements Loss of Private Water Supplies One tragic fatality More than 20,000 trees in Council-owned woodland would be flattened, damaged and felled
Aberdeenshire Council supported Scottish & Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) in locating welfare vans supplying hot food to affected communities and a Humanitarian Assistance Centre. Welfare checks began for our most vulnerable residents.
This care for people effort delivered:
17 Welfare Centres (hot food, water, and power available) (50 staff) 2 Rest Centres (for overnight accommodation) 13 separate Live Life Aberdeenshire facilities were opened to the public free of charge to allow access to hot showers, electricity charging facilities, communication etc 9 Restaurants/Hotels providing on-demand hot meals Circa 3,000 meals prepared by the School Catering Service to communities, sheltered housing and mobilised military personnel and volunteers 2000 calls for assistance to the Aberdeenshire Council Humanitarian Assistance Centre Hotel accommodation for the most vulnerable
The publication of the resilience leaflet comes as the Council’s winter roads maintenance plan kicks into action, with crews stepping up plans to keep the 3,500-mile roads network clear, in particular overcoming the challenges posed by a barrage of ferocious storms.
Currently all depot salt stocks are at full capacity and will continue to be restocked by suppliers throughout the winter, ensuring treatments can be actioned as necessary. Typically, the local authority will use around 45,000 tonnes of salt annually to ensure roads and footways remain safe for all users.
The Council has also been busy readying its fleet of 55 gritters, support vehicles and around 300 dedicated Roads and Landscape staff to ensure residents and businesses can travel and operate as freely as possible through potentially challenging conditions.
Council Leader Cllr Mark Findlater said: “Since those devastating storms a year ago, we have taken significant steps in developing the Aberdeenshire Community Resilience Strategy which builds on the learning and experiences of individuals, households, families, and communities during the winter storms.
"This strategy sets out how we collectively build resilience in Aberdeenshire and, combined with the ongoing engagement with our communities, it will help ensure we are well placed to deal with any weather challenges thrown at us.”
Depute Leader Cllr Anne Stirling added: “Following the winter storms, officers have been supporting groups and organisations in a variety of ways to raise awareness of our emergency response and community resilience and I have every confidence residents across Aberdeenshire are even now gearing themselves up as winter approaches.”
Chief Executive Jim Savege said: “As we saw both during Storm Arwen and the recent flooding events at several locations including Ballater and Kintore, many of our communities have very well-rehearsed resilience and response plans in place.
"By developing these plans in association with the Council, they are ensuring their communities have a strong support mechanism to help deal with emergencies and challenging conditions and are getting the crucial message across that we must all increase our individual and household resilience and be aware of our neighbours and those around us who may need help.”