HUNDREDS of residents in rural Northumberland remain without power as the aftermath of Storm Arwen continues to wreak havoc.

The storm's high winds brought down trees and damaged power lines across the area - plunging thousands of homes into darkness.

Since then Northern Powergrid engineers have been working around the clock battling to restore electricity to homes.

Rod Gardner, its major incident manager, said the impact of Storm Arwen was 'one of the worst we’ve experienced in the last 20 years'.

Many are still without power ranging from Elswick to Slaley, and parts of Ponteland and Prudhoe.

Among those affected are Catherine and Peter Rix, who live in Allendale.

The Rix's power failed at 10pm on the evening of November 26 and is still not restored.

Their elderly next door neighbour is ill and registered as disabled. She cannot contact anyone without power as she has no mobile or internet.

They rang Northern Powergrid's helpline to get assistance for their elderly neighbour.

They were left on hold trying to report a medical emergency and get help for their neighbour for three hours.

The lowest recorded temperature in the Rix household is currently -5. Without an open fire in their home, the temperature could be even lower.

Allendale has seen a lot of snow recently, and the Rix's had a four foot snow drift blocking the entrance to their house.

Sarah Forsey, who is also without power, said: "We have been without power for five days now. We had no water for three days. We have a small child in the house. It took eight hours to get through to report the power failure.

"We have spent hours on hold trying to get updates."

Guy Opperman, the MP for Hexham, said: "We all accept that there is unprecedented storm damage, and that power reconnection requires specialist electrical engineers, but we need all the emergency services and the local authority as one in fixing these problems."

An agreement between Northern Powergrid and a generator supplier has been made to ensure the most vulnerable are supported.

The Rix's are immensely grateful to the Allendale community, who they said have been "amazing".

They have been told power will be restored by today - at which point they will have had no power for nearly a week.

Northern Powergrid confirmed they will cover costs up to £15 per person, per meal and reasonable costs of alternative accommodation.

Mr Gardner said: “Intelligence from our helicopter inspections has illustrated the scale of impact on our network. The impact from Storm Arwen has been one of the worst we’ve experienced in the last 20 years.

“Despite this we have restored more than 200,000 customers supplies and our dedicated teams will not stop until all customers are restored, and our network is returned to full strength.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from other UK network companies, who have provided resource as part of the industry’s mutual support arrangements, which exist for extreme events like this.

“Our frontline teams and contractors will work in partnership with engineers from other parts of the UK, we have also organised additional customer service support to bolster our contact centre to help us keep customers updated.

“We continue to work closely with the region’s gas, water and rail network companies to coordinate with their teams and prioritise our work to help minimise the broader impact on the region.”