Cawdor is caring, friendly community with people keeping an eye out for each other and those qualities came to the fore recently as the area witnessed power cuts lasting 36-48 hours as a result of the storms that swept across Scotland. On Monday night in the Community Centre there was a large turnout of around 50-60 people to discuss, among other things on a very full agenda, a community plan to deal with any further similar emergencies. The meeting also doubled up at this point with CC reps from Croy who were also present to get advice and suggestions from the Southern Electric officials present. Tim Smith chairing the meeting opened the discussion on a community plan:
“We all went through the wonders of not having power for 36 hours, 48 hours and it came back on. We all actually got used to speaking one another in our households and we all had to lose the internet and, indeed, some of us were playing Monopoly. So in a perverse way that was quite a good thing. Obviously what wasn’t quite so good was the lack of a community plan and that was the same for Croy as well.[...] I don’t want to go back to why we didn’t have a community energy plan. We haven’t, the process is that we are going to get one. The ladies are going to explain the Community Emergency Plan, they will give an overview of what it is.”
Mo Bates from SSE then gave a presentation. She talked about the work of all the emergency partners in the background. She said that SSE use the Scottish Government template for the outline of a plan. She said that SSE were quite willing to work with any group that wished to prepare a plan and that she would come back to help prepare a plan. She said:
“It’s all about our communities working together, whatever the emergency.[...] It just means that you’ve got the confidence of what we’ll do along with the other emergency partners for you and we know how you are all going to react and perhaps give you some extra help in coping, particularly with your more vulnerable people.”
Mo also spoke about household emergency plans and distributed leaflets. She then spoke about vulnerable customers: “It could be a temporary vulnerability, someone has been in and had an operation. You in the community will know who that is. It could just be for a short period of time and if it happens to be the time the emergency is on we need to count them in. And the best way to identify them is not the NHS. We have a priority services register so that anyone can self register. We can tie up our lists as much as you like but you will be the ones that will know. Particularly the ones that won’t ask for help.”
The SSE ladies then showed the meeting a variety of items that are useful to have put by for an emergency such as glowsticks, wind up torches and radios, self heating food packs, silver blankets. It was interesting to be told that a church candle will burn for approximately 99 hours and will add three degrees heat on your room. Don’t throw out any old analogue phones that you might have too, in the event of a power cut you may still have communication with one of these devices.
Tim Smith then spoke again: “We all went through our emotional turmoil when the lights went out and I think we all resolved as much as we could the issues in our households. It’s the bigger picture, what we do as a community, what we feed into the template. Does that template, mean that the community, the school and the community centre here is the key? The place, that we say to SSE can you hive off a large great generator off the back of the lorry, plug it in here please and we can operate from here and all the facilities are here and other people; I don’t know but say the shop, or indeed the tea rooms or whoever. I’m not going to say categorically who is or who isn’t, it is for the team members to make that decision. It is for different members to come forward with regard with what goes into the plan. So we’ve got a basic premise that this is the centre of the universe for purposes of when the lights are out. The vulnerable, if need be, we have a plan where we go out and make sure they are all right. If they are not all right or it goes on for an extended period of time we can bring them back here. They can be fed, they can be watered. There’s heat, there’s showers. There’s the ability if pushed, I would have thought, depending on the insurances or whatever that people can stay here overnight if they need to with a view that they’re safe, they’re warm, they’re protected, we know where they are, and everyone else knows where the key point of our plan is. The key point of our plan is here.”
The meeting continued and it emerged that several people had already volunteered to help in the event of another similar emergency. There was a feeling expressed by the meeting that the Community Centre was the preferred building to be part of an emergency plan and also the SSE reps told those present that money may be available to install a generator to assist the plan.