A MAN who was affected by extended power cuts from Storm Arwen has helped the most vulnerable and isolated claim compensation for their expenses.

Richard Palmer, 50, from Gunnerton Fell in Birtley, was one among many who were left stranded without power after Storm Arwen.

Working in a national healthcare organisation, Richard’s familiarity with corporate record systems led him to the belief that Northern Powergrid’s system was dropping cases and leaving no record of them.

Storm Arwen affected the management of these cases, as Richard said: "No one was in charge, no one was going to come and sort it out, no one knew what was going on."

"There was a "complete collapse of communication systems when the internet and mobile phones went down".

He saw an opportunity for social media to help restore some communication, and set up a Storm Arwen Support Group on Facebook to record as many human impact stories from the storm as possible, and make sure the impact of this situation isn’t forgotten.

"We don’t know how many lost their lives, and we don’t know how many developed chronic health issues from living without heating for several days," said Richard.

Along with making YouTube videos explaining how to cook on a traditional wood burner stove, Richard also helped people organise compensation claims for loss of refrigerated supplies, increased consumption of coal, and increased mileage travelling to get warmth and hot food.

Richard said: "I want people’s experiences to be recorded to ensure no one is left behind or forgotten about."

"I don’t want to come across as person of the week because it was a communal effort of so many different people helping to support isolated and vulnerable people."

He praised several from the community, including local Hexham business, Forest and Garden, who delivered and installed generators to those in need after weeks without power.

Richard is also in talks with others from his community to organise a team of volunteers dedicated to helping those affected in future by extreme weather conditions.

"The community needs to mobilise to avoid this situation again," he said.

The volunteers would communicate with citizens and the council to spread information, distribute supplies, and set up soup kitchens and community centres for those who need it.

He and others hope in future to "sit with the council and come up with a better emergency plan" and prevent a similar situation from happening again.