Belfast Telegraph

Carrick pub that offered shelter forced to close on police advice

By Linda Stewart

The duty manager of a Carrickfergus pub that planned to throw open its doors to homeless and vulnerable people caught up in Storm Ophelia had to evacuate the premises last night.

Big-hearted Robert McClenaghan had said he would provide free tea and coffee and stay open throughout the night if people needed to take shelter at The Central Bar in the Co Antrim coastal town.

He had also offered to send tea and coffee, milk for babies and snacks free of charge by taxi to any families with young children who needed help.

"If you live alone and are a little bit apprehensive, come down to the bar - we will sit it out together," he posted on the Facebook page of the Wetherspoon's bar.

"If your electric goes out and you need hot water for babies or the kids, come down and I will supply tea and coffee free.

"If you are homeless in the area at this time, our doors are open for shelter and heat, no questions asked.

"If you get caught in it and can't get home, use us as a safe point - we will try and get you home.

"I will stay all night if need be, but above all be safe.

"It may amount to nothing, but better being prepared. Please share and let the people know."

However, events conspired against Robert. Late last night, he posted: "Folks, on advice from the PSNI we have had to evacuate the pub due to a possible - and I must stress possible - storm surge coming up Belfast Lough.

"Stay safe, do not attempt to come to the pub at this time. We will keep you posted."

Robert said that "paramount is the safety of the staff and customers" but "that's not to say we are not here to help, this page will stay live until this storm passes and if anyone needs any help at all please contact us via message and we will help if we can".

Robert later posted video footage of what appeared to be surging waters at Whitehead.

Earlier, Robert said his post offering shelter had gone "totally viral" yesterday morning.

He continued that the bar had done something similar recently when many homes in the Carrickfergus area lost power.

"Today is not about making profits - it's about looking after each other," he explained. "This is a lifeline if anybody needs it."

What to do if you’ve been affected by Ophelia

Association of British Insurers’ advice for those impacted by the storm:

  • Do not put yourself at risk, for example climbing up to check any possible damage to roofs.
  • Contact your property insurer as soon as possible. Most will have 24-hour emergency helplines to offer advice on what to do and to sort out repairs as quickly as possible.
  • If necessary, arrange temporary emergency repairs to stop any damage getting worse. Tell your insurer and keep receipts, as this will form part of your claim.
  • Do not be in a rush to throw away damaged items, unless they are a danger to health, as these may be able to be repaired or restored. Your insurer will advise.
  • Comprehensive motor insurance policies will cover storm damage to your vehicle.
  • If planning to fly and your flight is disrupted, contact your tour operator, air carrier or travel agent.
  • Alastair Ross, Head of Public Policy for Northern Ireland at the Association of British Insurers, said: “This is exactly the type of event that insurance is designed to cover. Insurers expect bad weather to strike at any time, and will be geared up to help customers who have suffered storm damage recover as quickly as possible.”

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