It seems the weather forecasters got it right: the ‘Beast from the East’ truly came to the UK with a vengeance. It was like a particularly annoying youngster who felt that they had something to prove, constantly reminding you of their presence and just making it unnecessarily difficult to do even the most basic of tasks.
I think we were lucky here in that while we did feel some of the effects, we managed to miss the worst of things. It was interesting to see just how different areas were affected and by travelling only a few miles up the road, you could go from seeing just a dusting on the hedges to a total whitewash.
Across the Border, people were told to be home by 4pm for their own safety and public transport providers cancelled the majority of services in the interests of the safety of both their customers and employees. It has been said to be one of the most extreme weather events that Ireland has seen in decades and the true impact is yet to be fully realised, with Leo Varadkar having concerns that there may well be people found to have perished in their homes in there most rural areas that were cut off for days.
Similar was occurring over the water in England, Scotland and Wales. Some poor folk opened their front doors to be faced with several feet of snow blocking the driveway to the point where it would have been easier to dig a tunnel through it rather than try to clear a pathway. Dogs went out into the backyard to do their necessary business and quickly found themselves lost in the walls of snow around. I went out to the bin and forgot about the drain covers that were hiding beneath the snow, laying in wait for an unsuspecting victim.
It was a strange experience for me, because I tend to be a person who doesn’t really feel the cold and the most I do in the thick of winter is chuck a hoodie on when I’m going outside in the dead of winter. I’m still sleeping with a 4.5tog summer duvet on my bed, for goodness sake! So when I think it’s cold, there’s really something wrong with the weather!
For the majority, this so-called beast gave us all a chance to slow down and enjoy a few cosy nights in. It was well deserved too, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing at night and not reaching above zero in some places during the day. Just as we thought the worst had gone, he was followed by Storm Emma who brought more of the same.
Of course, there came the usual panic buying. I’d thought that Enniskillen would escape the mania given that things weren’t too bad for us, but I was proved wrong while popping into town for a few birthday essentials for Mum. Picking up a chocolate cake wasn’t an issue but finding a loaf of bread was as the shelves were almost bare and with the pickings being so slim, I couldn’t afford to be picky.
It took a few days for things to improve too as even though we’d escaped the worst, there seemed to be a fair few problems with shops having their usual deliveries come in. It’s at those times that you realise just how interdependent the whole of the UK and Ireland really are. I can’t imagine that there were many people stocking up on frozen peppers or vegetarian chicken pieces, but after looking for some after taking a notion for few nice hearty fajitas, I was left disappointed. I imagine my much-sought supplies were trapped in a lorry in the snowy vales of Scotland somewhere, with a shivering driver hoping that he was going to make the ferry crossing. You can’t be angry when things happen that are outside your control: shouting at staff isn’t going to make food magically appear out of thin air. These things happen and you have to just adjust as best you can and move on.
Unless of course you’re of the mindset that a few criminals from Dublin chose to engage. Instead of staying warm and cosy, they decided to steal a digger from a construction site and bring it to a nearby Lidl in order to rip off the roof and steal the safe. Not content with only stealing cash, they allegedly then proceeded to loot the premises. They managed to cause huge destruction during a code red weather warning when they knew that the Garda were already stretched to their limits. Even still, they still managed to make nine arrests and all men were brought before court the following day.
There are now people left without jobs, a community left without a supermarket, paint a bad picture of the area and probably a feeling of unease around the area. While there were some arrested, footage from the area shows that many were happy enough to partake in the activities and you have to wonder about the morality of those people. Is a potential criminal record really worth the chance to grab a few free frozen pizzas?
If they were so keen to go out in the snow, then why couldn’t they use their time and energy for good and bring out a shovel or two to clear a couple of roads? Given that Garda say some of the thieves were able enough to bring wheelie bins with them to fill with goods, there surely isn’t an excuse save for their personalities. Instead, they chose to damage their local community rather than help it. This was the main supermarket in the area and due to the weather, had been unreachable by road meaning it would have been inaccessible to many who needed it.
Is that part of what’s wrong with how the world is now? That so many people are focused on looking out for their own interests instead of seeing the wider picture? By all means, grab an emergency loaf if there’s a chance that you’re going to be housebound if there’s bad weather forecast, but no-one needs to be shoving an extra six loaves into their trolley unless they’re picking up for their neighbours too. One person’s selfish nature could leave many more going without and that could be easily avoided with just a little forethought. Just because you physically can do something, doesn’t always mean that you should.
Often there isn’t any malicious intent, so it would be so easily changed. Just think how much better things would be if everyone took just a moment to consider those around them and acted for the betterment of all. With early forecasts warning us to look out for the “Pest from the West”, let’s hope we don’t see this recent history repeating itself.