Government must do more in the wake of Storm Arwen
One of the main company bosses behind The Fife Arms in Braemar has spoken out against the lack of help available to rural Aberdeenshire residents as vulnerable people continue to go without electricity.
Ewan Venters, CEO of Artfarm, the independent hospitality and development company owned by Manuela and Iwan Wirth, says more needs to be done for rural communities when crises like Storm Arwen strike.
The storm hit homes and businesses across the country on Friday evening as tens of thousands of homes were plunged into darkness.
Based in London, Ewan coordinated the emergency response for The Fife Arms in Aberdeenshire and worked alongside Managing Director Marc Denton to further support the local community, as well as their guests.
Impact of Storm Arwen
The team of The fifes quickly got to work assembling blankets, hot meals and drinks for locals, with some delivering supplies to the village’s most vulnerable.
He said: “In the last two hours the power has returned to Braemar. I think it may be driven by temporary generators until they turn everything back on.
“The hotel has a back-up generator on the property’s grounds, so we were able to take care of our guests until Sunday morning. We prevented new people from coming to the hotel on Saturday and the other customers left on Sunday morning.
“We lost power on Saturday night and the chef’s team ended up having an open fire barbecue in the backyard.
“In a sense, when you’re in the moment it’s quite happy, but what wasn’t happy was that the Scottish Government’s response was chaotic enough to have emergency services deployed, l army and employees of the electricity company.
“It took, we think, until Monday afternoon to restore power to 40,000 homes in Deeside. There have been so many vulnerable people without electricity, heat or phone service since Friday.
“At 10:30 am, Braemar’s water tanks were dry. Without electricity, there was no possibility of pumping water into the reservoirs. I know Aberdeenshire Council was sending trucks to Braemar to fill the tanks and put a generator in the village to pump the water.
Fife Arms Command Post
By making the hotel a community center, the team helped serve hot drinks and food to feed the locals and provided a place to help people stay warm.
He added: “The Fife became a command post and the team distributed blankets, prepared hot drinks and there was also a lot of distribution of items by other locals to others.
“Those who were able to get out were able to take refuge in the hotel. It has been a great community training on behalf of everyone.
“There are probably still hundreds of homes without electricity and there will still be a lot of people in distress without heat, electricity and potentially water. It has been incredibly dangerous for the super young and the super old.
“On the one hand, I am desperately proud of the team behind The Fife Arms and the support they have given to the community, but on the other hand, where was the professional support services?
“This is some kind of humanitarian catastrophe that is likely to happen. Without electricity, water and heat, people in the most vulnerable sectors of our society in rural communities could be at great risk.
With winds blowing trees and icy roads causing chaos, Ewan says there are lessons to be learned.
“I’m curious why the military has not been mobilized to mobilize generators in local hot spots to help these communities?” “.
Community safety is key right now
The hotel now functioning as a refuge for locals in need, Ewan is unsure of when it will reopen its doors to guests.
The priority right now is to make sure everyone is safe and healthy.
“The first 24 hours the staff managed from their own properties, but when the guests left on Sunday morning we moved most of them into the hotel. Otherwise, we could have had a lot of sick or sick employees who could not have reacted as they did.
“Everyone did the right thing. Our responsibility to operate in a rural area is of course to take care of our clients, but to quickly turn our attention to the local community and determine how we can best help.
“We lost our phone lines yesterday, but we brought them up this morning and launched an electronic bulletin board so that relatives of people living outside Braemar who could not get in touch with their families and their families. friends can contact us so that we can try to get messages to them.
“The village cooperative was phenomenal – they brought us 10 chickens this morning so we could prepare more food for the community.
“We briefly saw the Red Cross in the village, and when they come you know you are in trouble. “
“My main question is, where was the local government to support? Where’s the army? Where’s the help? “