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Families left without power

PUBLISHED: 15:01 17 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

THOUSANDS of homes have been left without power after lightning struck electricity cables.

It resulted in some families being cut off for nearly 18 hours with them today branding power company 24Seven as "disgusting" claiming they received little help from call centre staff.

THOUSANDS of homes have been left without power after lightning struck electricity cables.

It resulted in some families being cut off for nearly 18 hours with them today branding power company 24Seven as "disgusting" claiming they received little help from call centre staff.

Families in the Great Blakenham area were left without electricity for more than 17 hours yesterday following violent overnight storms.

Despite engineers from electricity company 24Seven working throughout the night to restore power, residents in the area have hit out.

A spokeswoman from 24Seven said that three cables were hit in the overnight storms, cutting the power to around 1,500 homes in Great Blakenham, Claydon, Needham Market, Baylham and Ashbocking, which meant that there was no alternative power supply.

She said: "Around 1,172 customers were cut off between 1.13am and 2.50am.

"A further 235 customers were off until 3pm the next day and another 95 customers were not back on until 6.13pm."

The lack of power for some Great Blakenham families however was made worse by the treatment from call centre staff.

They claimed they were told to take their children to the hospital to be bathed and others were informed that they would not be compensated for loss of food because they were just 24 minutes under the 24Seven target time of 18 hour cut off period.

Sharron Cruttenden's daughter Hannah-Grace suffers with asthma and underdeveloped lungs and said an electronically operated nebuliser is a lifeline to the eight-year-old.

The youngster also suffers from eczema all over her body and has to be bathed at least once a day in special lotions before being dressed head to foot in bandages.

When she told customer service representatives this at electricity company 24Seven she was outraged at their response.

Mrs Cruttenden said: "I was not happy with the response I got when I phoned a second time to find out when the electricity would come back on. So I asked to speak to a supervisor and he told me that local hospitals were supposed to take in children and disabled people to bath and feed them.

"When I phoned the hospital to double check they told me it was a load of rubbish."

It was also suggested that Mrs Cruttenden, her daughter and two sons, Warren,11 and Luke, seven, should go and stay with relatives but they were also without power because they live nearby.

Eventually Mrs Cruttenden managed to get to her parents house in Ipswich to use the nebuliser before they flew out to Athens.

She said: "It is not so much the electricity going off but the way I was spoken to and the way they handled it. I was absolutely fuming – I just wanted to find out what was going on so I knew whether to try and take my children elsewhere or not.

Mrs Cruttenden's neighbour Claire Swarbrick also criticised the company.

She lost six of her tropical fish that would cost around £25 to replace as well as around £60 of beef that she had in the freezer.

But when she phoned to find out about compensation she was told that she could only get money back if the power had been off for 18 hours or more.

Miss Swarbrick said: "I had lots of meat in the freezer and their only answer was 'can't you use it or give it away?' But why should I have to?"

The 28-year-old assistant manager at the One Stop shop in Claydon also lost a day's work because she had to stay at home to keep an eye on her tropical fish.

She also tried to phone the company and complain.

She said: "I said that I was phoning up to complain and was just greeted with a tut and a sigh.

"It is their job to be there for people – it is disgusting."

The spokeswoman for 24Seven said the company were now listening back to all the calls that would have been recorded to investigate the matter.

She said they were sorry that customers felt they were given anything but the best advice from the call centre and that there were regulations they had to follow for special needs families such as the Cruttenden's who need to use electronically operated equipment for essential medical reasons.

She said: "Although we cannot guarantee to get them back on before their neighbours we can try and tell them how long they will be off.

"If it is for too long we would suggest that they contacted their doctor about what they should do."

With regard to frozen food she said that modern freezers should be fine for 35 hours without power as long as the door was not left open.

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