TENS of thousands of householders spent up to 24 hours without power after gales and snow brought the region’s early summer to an abrupt and freezing end.
North west Durham was worst hit, with thousands of homes in the Consett, Ebchester, Dipton and Tow Law areas suffering blackouts.
Parts of Northumberland on isolated high ground were also badly hit.
Around 27,000 properties were still without power last night. In the Northumberland village of Hedley on the Hill, power was lost from 3pm on Tuesday to almost 4pm yesterday.
Villager Val Barnes said: “It’s been a long and difficult time, but thank goodness we’re back on now after more than 24 hours.”
An area close to Belsay near Ponteland was also cut off for around 24 hours and there were also reports of a power cut in Wallsend, North Tyneside, last night.
Police in County Durham appealed to people to be “good neighbours” by making sure vulnerable people living nearby were safe and warm.
In Northumberland, police said problems were isolated and there had been no reports of road closures.
Northern Powergrid said its engineers worked throughout the night to restore power to customers after more than 200 faults were reported on Tuesday.
At 8am yesterday, 40,000 customers were cut off and a spokesman said the main focus was the A68 area in north-west Durham. Around 4,000 people in the Consett area were cut off by a “multiple overhead line fault”. Helicopters and 4 x 4 vehicles were deployed and customer care vans distributed hot food and drinks.
“We are working really hard to get to everyone and to get them back on,” the Northern Powergrid spokesman added last night. “The weather has improved and the forecast is good so we are pretty confident we can get repairs done quickly.”
Power cuts first hit the Northumberland area as overhead cables were brought down by driving snow and strong winds before areas further south began to be affected.
Rain and snow also caused delays in fixing the problems. Durham Police chief superintendent Andy Reddick said: “As far as the power outage is concerned, we know that every effort is being made to restore electricity, but efforts are being hampered by the weather.
“In the meantime, I would urge everyone in the affected areas to be good neighbours. If you have an elderly or vulnerable person living near you, please check that they are OK and help them wrap up warm.”
High winds and heavy snow closed several roads across the county overnight between Tuesday and yesterday.
The A68 between Castleside and Tow Law was blocked, but re-opened yesterday, while the A692 from Dipton to Sunniside was closed due to an accident amid reports of heavy drifts.
At Stagshaw roundabout north of Corbridge, two people were rescued from a car that left the road at the peak of the blizzard.
Emergency services were also called to an accident near the village of Colwell, north of Hexham. Langley Lane, between Burnhope and Witton Gilbert, near Durham City, was closed by snow and remained shut yesterday morning.
However, the worst conditions were on the A66 Trans-Pennine route.
Several drivers were stranded and two families were rescued from cars, including one with a 20-month-old baby.
They were taken to Barnard Castle police station for shelter. Several other drivers sheltered in Stainmore cafe.
Motorists were advised to avoid the road from Barnard Castle to Eggleston.
Police said the A66 between Bowes and Brough re-opened yesterday after conditions were assessed.
Football fixtures at Gateshead, Spennymoor and Tow Law were postponed, while a game at Shildon was also called off. Durham County Cricket Club’s annual pre-season photocall – traditionally held in wintry conditions – did not disappoint on Tuesday.
The media event was moved indoors to dodge the weather.
The weather has improved and the forecast is good so we are pretty confident