Belfast Telegraph

Struggles in the snow on a day of freezing havoc in Northern Ireland

By Nevin Farrell and Donna Deeney

A crisp, white blanket of snow covered much of Northern Ireland yesterday as people battled the elements for a second day.

The snow and ice hit the north west, Co Antrim and parts of Co Down heaviest before rain washed it away in advance of Storm Rachel which blew in last night to create fresh problems.

Efforts by the staff of Transport NI, who had worked through the night in gritter lorries and snow ploughs, meant that most main roads remained passable.

Across Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane, fields, hills and roads were a brilliant white. Many people chose to stay indoors, but for those who had no choice except to brave the cold, walking became preferable to driving.

On Tuesday, motorists across Derry endured two and three hours trapped in their cars as they crept cautiously along the icy roads. Yesterday, many left their cars behind.

Alex Campbell left his car at work on Tuesday and walked home. He said: "I heard how long it was taking people to get around the town so I didn't want to risk being stuck for hours or crashing.

"I was frozen to the bone by the time I got through my front door but I'm prepared for anything now, I have three jumpers on me, a thick coat, hat, scarf and gloves."

There was a noticeable lack of people on the streets of Derry and trade was extremely quiet for those businesses that did manage to open.

Dungiven farmer Ian Buchanan had wisely brought his livestock in under cover so didn't have the worry of driving through untreated roads.

He said: "You can cope with this kind of weather for a day or two without any difficulty but problems will arise if it goes on for more than that.

"I have a dairy herd and there is no way a milk lorry could get into the farm with the roads the way they are now - but the weathermen are telling us this snow won't last so we will be all right."

In Antrim, some people were angry as roads outside rural primary schools and school bus routes continued to be left out of TransportNI's scheduled gritting routes.

As the Carnbore Road at Liscolman's Straidbilly Primary School was a treacherous sheet of ice, the school shut for the day and in nearby Dervock an ungritted road meant a bus didn't venture into the village, forcing 20 secondary school pupils to miss classes.

The 118 pupils at Straidbilly Primary School had the day off when the school took the decision to close because of health and safety reasons. Principal Gillian McConnell said they operated a text service and the message got out - although two pupils had turned up.

She said the road outside the school was not normally gritted and many of her pupils travelled from outlying areas and the conditions were difficult.

But while some struggled in the snow, others made the most of the conditions and an unexpected day off. You could hear the squeals of delight from children as the list of schools closed grew and they realised they could build snowmen and go sledding as winter had finally arrived.

Belfast Telegraph

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