NEWS
02/03/2018 10:54 GMT | Updated 02/03/2018 13:08 GMT

Storm Emma Latest: Stranded Travellers Forced To Sleep On Pub Floors And In Trains

'You have to do what you can for people.'

Hotels, fast food restaurants and leisure centres across the country have opened their doors to help people stranded in the snow.

After the A1 became impassable, Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland became one such hub for those marooned by the combined threats of Storm Emma and ‘Beast from the East’.

Margaret Straughan, landlady of the Brewers Arms told HuffPost UK: “It started at about 6pm last night, there were people stuck on a Megabus about three miles away travelling from Edinburgh to Newcastle and they couldn’t book into any hotels or B&Bs.

Serena Gao
The Brewers Arms in Berwick became an impromptu guest house on Thursday night 
Serena Gao
Airbeds, quilts and spare coats were supplied by generous locals 
Serena Gao
Serena Gao (right) and her friend Liya Xu slept at the pub overnight after being rescued from a stranded Megabus 

“They had been on the bus for about 10 hours when someone texted me. I explained we didn’t have any beds but we have plenty of room.”

Around 80 passengers duly descended upon the pub, with Straughan and her daughter laying on free sandwiches and tea and coffee.

She said: “Some of them were pretty angry, they’d been on a bus for 10 hours and hadn’t been updated. But they soon calmed down and were quite happy. I’ve got one who’s pretty drunk now. 

“Morrisons (supermarket) then called us to say they had a lot of bread, milk and eggs and they sent that over.

“I’ve never had anything like this happen before but you have to do what you can for people. There were some older people, some youngsters and locals were coming over to deliver coats, quilts, airbeds and even boardgames. The people of Berwick have been amazing.

“If you can’t do somebody a good turn don’t do them a bad one.”

Chinese tourist Serena Gao, 30, was one of those stuck on the bus along with her friend Liya Xu. She said: “I was quite worried because it was dark outside and very cold on the bus, but the landlady has been very kind to us. We’ve had a good sleep, we’ve been warm and we are very relieved.

“It’s been memorable but I hope it doesn’t happen again!”

Kelly Thompson, who began her shift a 6am at McDonalds in Berwick upon Tweed, said people unable to book hotel rooms had been coming to the restaurant for food and to use the facilities.

With many hotels and guest houses closed due to staff being unable to reach them in the bad weather, several were left to sleep in their cars. Thompson said a local Travelodge had donated a number of duvets and that McDonalds itself had provided breakfast for around 70 people who spent the night in the nearby Swan Leisure Centre.

She said: “I’ve sent muffins, milk and cups over and the Coastguard has been helping out transporting the supplies with its 4x4s.”  

Elsewhere in the country, the military was called to lead a major rescue operation on the A31 in Hampshire and M62 in Greater Manchester. 

Dozens of volunteers battled through snow to take supplies to people stranded on the M62 motorway after drivers were left trapped in their cars for several hours. 

Eleanor Kelly, 19, said local residents in Milnrow, Rochdale, had been taking hot drinks, food and blankets to those stuck on the carriageway – including to a father with a baby and toddler in the car.

She said: “We’ve been trying to get to as many people as we can in about a mile radius from where we can get to the carriageway.”

The local community centre, Butterworth Hall, was also opened to provide refuge for stranded motorists overnight.

On The A31 in Hampshire, rest centres were set up and food and drink was also taken to those trapped in their cars. The road had reopened by late Friday morning, with local police encouraging drivers to avoid all non-essential travel. 

A total of five trains were stranded overnight on the route between London and Weymouth, Network Rail said.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise to passengers trapped on trains overnight on the South Western Railway network due to extreme weather.

“We worked closely with South Western Railway and the emergency services through the night who responded to the most vulnerable passengers.

“All passengers were removed from trains earlier this morning, but the ongoing extreme weather meant emergency services were not able to evacuate people sooner.

“We are asking people not to travel across the South Western Railway network today unless absolutely essential. Services across the route will also be stopping early this evening.”

PA Graphics

A South Western Railway spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise to passengers who were stranded on trains overnight. They have all been taken to Bournemouth station where South Western Railway staff are providing hot food and drinks.

“Hotel accommodation will be provided for those unable to travel onwards from Bournemouth.

“Our staff, together with Network Rail have battled tirelessly throughout the night to try to get trains moving in very challenging conditions, and will continue to do so throughout the day.

“We are advising passengers not to attempt to travel today, but for those who have already started their journey,  we recommend they return as soon as possible.

“Due to the continued extreme weather conditions,  we will be closing the train service early today.  Please check our website for the most up to date information.”