Nearly 300,000 homes across Suffolk and Essex were without power during the storm that swept through our region last week. But I was concerned with just one – ours. Selfish? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. With reason? Yes – two – our two-and-a-half-year-old and our one-year-old.
We had braced ourselves for ‘The Great Storm’ on the Sunday night and went about normal service on Monday morning when it seemed all drama had blown over. All was well. Until, that is, we returned home and were welcomed back by a fallen tree across a power cable and subsequently, no power.
Being rural, our entire house is run by electricity. The blackness of our village was only overshadowed by the void created with the realisation that we had no internet.
Goodness me, a night of conversation? With a sense of humour failure, witty banter was not high on my list of priorities.
Hot on the heels of adversity were the insurance company who offered assistance.
Of course, offering and actually helping are two entirely different things, as we discovered. Would they help us pay the cost of staying in a hotel? The house would be without heat and light for an indefinite period of time. No – the house is still habitable they argued. For two healthy adults perhaps but for two children under three? Our eldest was terrified and urged us to ‘switch the lights back on’.
Our saviours took the form of Roger and Sheilagh, neighbours who welcomed us into their home. After two cold, dark nights our delight was on par with those who switched on the first ever electric lights.
There is some warmth in the news that UK Power are offering double the usual compensation but had we not been lucky enough to have wonderful neighbours this would not have covered the cost of sourcing alternative accommodation. Our home was one of the last in our village to regain power, four long nights and five cold days.
Frustratingly, we have since learnt that the blackout was not due to the tree on the power line but by a blown fuse and so could have been resolved far sooner.
The lesson learnt? Keep lots of torches; that cold baths are no fun and that genuine kindness still exists and for which we are extremely thankful for.
-- Anne Ng, via email