A MOTHER of two on Shetland has described living in “pure hell” as outages forced them to live without basic power supplies since Monday.

A “major incident” was declared on Shetland as snow and ice accumulated on overhead power lines, causing them to break and leaving thousands without electricity as temperatures plummeted below minus in Scotland this week with inches of snow.

Caroline Ritchie lives in Mossbank with her husband Eric and two sons, Eric, eight, and Tommy, six, and were one of many families who went days without power, leaving them unable to heat their homes, cook hot food and use electrical items.

The 42-year-old said the family decided to move into a hotel on Wednesday night for warmth as her son Eric is disabled and on antibiotics, but moved back into their home on Thursday afternoon after power returned.

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“We booked for two … but (power came back) sooner, so we just came home and asked the hotel to offer our room for tonight to someone else with no power,” she added.

Ritchie told the PA news agency: “It was two-and-a-half days of pure hell.

“Monday we started to get a bit of heavy snow and then about tea time the power went out, and I checked online and it said they would hope to get it fixed by 11pm that night, and then it updated to say 11am the next morning.

“It’s never been this bad. We moved up here 13 years ago and it’s never been this bad the whole time we’ve been here. We’ve lost power occasionally, the longest we’ve gone without it is maybe overnight till the next morning and that’s been it.

“But we’ve been three days without it.”

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) sent 125 engineers to Shetland to support local teams but power may not return to many homes until the end of the week.

Local communities have come together to support each other as those with power offered to help those without.

“The spirits in the community have been really high, you’ve got folk who have 4×4 cars who can get through the snow and they have been doing runs to the far away shops,” Ritchie said.

The National: Caroline Ritchie, from Mossbank, with her two childrenCaroline Ritchie, from Mossbank, with her two children (Image: PA)

“You’ve got some people who do have power that have been inviting people into their homes, offering to cook dinner, make a cup of tea or charge their phones and so too a lot of the local halls, with the big power generators who can also do the same.

“There are so many folk that have pulled together, I’m originally from Glasgow, me and my husband were saying that you would not get this down the road, the amount of folk pulling together to help each other.

“Even strangers, if they had power or a gas stove, they would bring you in and help you in any way they can.”

Mrs Ritchie’s eldest son, Eric, suffers from ataxia telangiectasia – a childhood neurological disorder – and chose to relocate into a hotel in Lerwick, an area which was mostly unaffected with power issues, to avoid being in the cold for so long – but insisted not everyone is lucky “to have that option”.

“It was so cold, you could wear layers and layers, you could breathe and literally see your own breath in your house, it was so cold,” she said.

“We ended up staying in a hotel in Lerwick because my son is disabled and is on antibiotics, so the cold was not great for him so we had to, but not everyone has that option.

“You can’t fault the engineers and those helping who are doing everything they can to resolve the problem.”