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Weather / From welfare checks to fuel deliveries as coastguard teams keep busy in wintry weather

Meanwhile some public buildings are opening their doors to help those affected by power cuts

Photo: Shetland News

LOCAL coastguard teams were kept busy on Tuesday, including being tasked to check on the welfare of vulnerable residents in the wintry weather and power cuts.

Meanwhile extra power engineers have arrived in Shetland off the boat this morning (Wednesday) to help get areas reconnected.

In a post on Facebook the local coastguard service said the day started off with the Lerwick rescue team assisting with the safe transportation of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre staff in the adverse weather at 7am.

As previously reported, coastguard teams and the Sumburgh based helicopter then assisted the police with a search of a missing person in the Ollaberry area, which sadly resulted in a body of a woman being found.

At 4pm the Baltasound rescue team was tasked to establish the welfare of a resident in Unst.

At 7pm a Lerwick team was asked to assist NHS Shetland with the transfer of fuel from the town to the Hillswick Health Centre for its generator.

Ten minutes later another Lerwick team, and the Walls crew, were tasked to check on the welfare of a vulnerable person in the West Mainland.

The post continued: “Our coastguard rescue teams in Shetland are continuing to support our partner agencies during the adverse weather conditions.

“Road conditions have continued to be challenging, however our teams are well equipped and using suitable 4×4 vehicles to make essential journeys.”

With power off for thousands, especially in the west and north of Shetland, and mobile coverage unreliable in parts too there have been some posts made on social media expressing concern for loved ones who they have lost contact with.

But the community has rallied around, not just assisting in these welfare checks but also with public buildings opening their doors.

While the rest of Hillswick endures a lengthy power cut, the village’s St Magnus Bay Hotel is running off a generator and is offering people the opportunity to come along.

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It says it has “everything running” – from the cooker and hot water to the bar, although the internet is off.

The Walls Public Hall is also opening again from 10am today (Wednesday) to offer soup, hot water and a bit of warmth. It has also been delivering to anyone who cannot get to the hall.

The Tingwall hall meanwhile is also offering anyone without power access to the kitchen, or a chance to have a bit more warmth in the hall. People are advised to contact Lynne on 01595 840679.

The RNLI Lifeboat station in Aith is also open – call John on 01595 810847.

The Bixter Hall is open for soup, teas and coffees.

SSEN Distribution is due to give an update on the power situation – which has seen many lines fall in the snow and ice – later this morning.

Its Power Track website is showing that it aims to have power restored in full by 11pm on Thursday.

Many engineers and vans were on the NorthLink boat to Lerwick last night to assist local teams in their efforts.

The majority of faults have been caused by ‘line icing’, a rare occurrence where, at a certain temperature, snow and ice sticks to overhead power lines and accumulates, adding significant weight to the lines and causing them to break.

As of 5.30pm on Monday nearly 3,000 properties in Shetland were without power. However, it had reconnected 1,000 homes in Yell and Unst.

More snow is forecast this morning, alongside some gusty wind. A Met Office weather warning is in place until Friday.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart meanwhile said on Tuesday that she wanted to express her gratitude to the engineers, emergency services and gritter drivers to have helped the efforts in the isles.

“Residents in a vulnerable position should contact the power cut helpline on 105. Operators should be able to offer help and advice,” she said.

“Shetland’s resilience has been tested again following the recent telecommunications outage in October, and power cuts this week leaving residents in the cold.”

Schools and early learning settings, as well as UHI Shetland, remain closed for a second day.

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