Hospitality businesses still recovering from Storm Arwen, which caused power outages and damage to property, are facing the threat of further disruption with weather warnings issued for most of the UK ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra tomorrow (7 December).
More than 60 customers were trapped at the Tan Hill Inn, the highest inn in the British Isles in Richmond, North Yorkshire, for three nights; while the Fife Arms in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, was hit by ongoing power failures in the area leaving it without internet and mobile connection.
The Highfield hotel in Houghton le Spring, Tyne and Wear, opened its rooms to locals left without heating despite suffering from a lack of power and "extensive" property damage itself.
In comparison, Stosie Madi, chef-patron of Parkers Arms Country Inn in Newton-in-Bowland, Lancashire, counted her business "luckier than most" despite having no power for four days, as the venue was closed for its annual holiday ahead of reopening for the Christmas period.
"Luckily we didn't lose any money and we were able to reopen, minus one day. But it was emotionally, mentally and physically draining… had we been fully operational I reckon we'd have lost a lot of money in stock and produce," she told The Caterer.
"We couldn't get fresh fruit orders in, we couldn't prep, there was no heating, no power, no networks for phonelines, no bookings could come through and we couldn't reach out to customers. But I just felt like such a fraud trying to complain because I know of elderly people around us that were just so incapacitated and so cold and just cut off. It was horrible, it was a nightmare."
She bought camping stoves so staff that live in the pub could heat water. To keep warm at night, they slept downstairs in the bar and restaurant area, where there are fireplaces. The team then had to do one week's worth of preparation in 36 hours to get ready for reopening.
"We need these bookings, especially now," said Madi, who has seen 35% of her bookings cancelled by guests concerned by mixed messages from the government around the Omicron variant.
Rob Marchant, owner of the three-bedroom Old Station B&B in Bell Busk, North Yorkshire, was out of power for nearly six days and estimated he lost almost £1,500 in revenue in lost bookings and stock. He said Storm Arwen highlighted "the underinvestment in the maintenance of the infrastructure" while the plans that were in place were "woefully inadequate".
"It is mine and my wife's livelihood, and it was just completely wiped out for the week," he said. "We had two freezers full of bacon, sausages, black pudding, smoked salmon, kippers – they all had to be thrown away, and subsequently restocked. I'm just hoping Storm Barra doesn't bring the same problems because we've just gone out and spend approximately £250 restocking the freezers."
Madi added: "I'm so worried, because now we're stocked for Christmas… we're ready for it this time, we've got some back up gas so that we can get on and try and survive through it, but I don't know what we'd do with any stock we have to bring in."
Photo: Shutterstock / M Barratt
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