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Politics: Partnership is key to local resilience

By David Porter

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Many families, businesses and those who live alone, will still be recovering from the aftermath of Storm Arwen which saw much devastation across the north-east.

My team and I had many people getting in touch for help and support and we tried to help in any way we were able to.

The feedback from constituents is incredibly valuable and will be fed back to both Aberdeenshire Council, the power companies, emergency services and to the Scottish Government.

I have called for a resilience review about the impact of Storm Arwen and I will be continuing to press ahead on what improvements and changes can be made so we are better prepared for adverse weather events, particularly as we continue to battle with our changing climate.

During the response to Storm Arwen there was a lot of activity behind the scenes going on to ensure as much help was given to residents as possible.

Dozens of meetings were chaired by the Local Resilience Partnership (LRP) which met daily, multiple times, since the impact of the 90mph gale force winds.

In recent years the LRP has been brought together to help steer the communities through disasters such as the Storm Frank flooding and the coronavirus pandemic.

The LRP is made up of emergency services, council, military and other leaders who looked at how to respond to the catastrophic damage.

On the first day of weather warnings being issued for Storm Arwen, a taskforce was assembled with members from about 30 organisations with the severity of the storm soon becoming very apparent.

More than 60,000 homes were soon without power and the damage was much more severe than had been anticipated. Since the impact of Storm Arwen, about 950 engineers have been deployed to the area from across the UK, dealing with around 1000 faults.

During the course of their response, the LRP was also joined by Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege and staff from across NHS Grampian and the military also taking part in the taskforce response.

The LRP is now going from a “response” phase to a “recovery” phase.

The work that will be done will be to help people to cope with the after-effects and to allow the LRP to be able to provide practical care to those who need it in whatever way it is required.

I would also like to say a big thank you to all the businesses in Aberdeenshire who went above and beyond to help support those who needed it.

Whether that was offering warm showers, hot soup and warm drinks or checking in on more vulnerable neighbours who might not have people locally to check they are ok.

There has been a real community spirit and so many people have offered their time and help to support people.

It is a testament to the heart and spirit of people who live here in our community and one of the many reasons I am honoured to represent the Aberdeenshire East constituency.

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