Desperate family fear being stuck in Premier Inn for Christmas after Storm Arwen chaos

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Laura and Dave Venner’s home in Northumberland is one of around 240,000 across the country which has been affected by Storm Arwen, with 18,000 homes in the North East still without power

David and Laura Venner with their son Oliver
David and Laura Venner with their son Oliver

A family who were forced to swap their home for staying in a hotel after Storm Arwen cut their power fear they will still be there at Christmas.

Laura and Dave Venner say the storm has felt “like living in a disaster movie” and that they are “in limbo”.

They are also struggling and their two accessible hotel rooms are not equipped for their disabled children’s needs, Chronicle Live reports.

The Northumberland couple’s home is one of around 240,000 across the country which has been affected by the extreme weather.

Around 18,000 homes in the North East were still without power on Wednesday morning.

The Venners’ power went off at 11pm on Friday night, and two days later they moved from Medburn, near Ponteland, to the Premier Inn at Newcastle Airport.

They are staying at the Premier Inn at Newcastle airport
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Image:

Newcastle Chronicle)

Laura and Dave are both full time carers for their children, three of whom are disabled and rely on medical equipment and refrigerated medication.

Though Laura says the room she is sharing with her youngest son Oliver is spacious, it is not enough for his needs.

Laura said: “Because Oliver has a brain injury and cerebral palsy, he can’t sleep in a normal bed. Instead, he has to be in a safe space.

“It’s like a massive play pen that zips up and has fabric sides.”

Since the family’s arrival on Sunday, Oliver has had to sleep in a baby’s travel cot.

Laura continued: “He’s five years old and the size of a seven to eight year old so it’s not ideal.

“But he has to stay isolated to one area as he can’t put his hands out for safety and could injure himself at any point.”

Oliver usually has two carers in addition to his parents, but while the Venners are in the hotel, it’s up to just Laura and Dave.

Laura said: “There’s no safe bathing or space for hoisting equipment so we don’t want the carers to cause themselves injuries from lifting him.”

Storm Arwen has also meant that Laura and David had to postpone a trip to the RVI for their eldest daughter, Abbie, 8, who has cystic fibrosis.

Laura says it is not equipped for their needs
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Image:

Newcastle Chronicle)

On Wednesday, she was admitted to the hospital for a two week stay in an appointment that was originally planned for Monday – and usually one of her parents would be with her.

Laura said: “We know Abbie will be looked after by the nurses but she’s used to having her parents by her side. It’s just a nightmare.”

The power cut has not only caused issues for the children’s medical equipment and medicine, with the Venners also losing their Christmas dinner.

Laura said: “We have three big freezers and we’ve lost all the food in them. Two in the kitchen and a big chest freezer in the garage – all of the food has perished. There’s about £1,000 worth, including our Christmas dinner.

“It’s all ruined and we’re devastated. This storm has just taken over completely.”

And though Northern Powergrid have said that they will reimburse the Venners for their stay at the Premier Inn, including breakfast and evening meals, they have had to fork out £400 from Universal Credit and their carers’ allowance to secure the room.

On Wednesday morning, the latest update for Laura and Dave was that their power would be restored by 10pm on Thursday evening.

However, Laura thinks it could still be a while before the family get home. “We’ve been getting updates since the beginning but we’re stuck here in limbo. I can understand it’s been a massive power cut and we’re not the only ones in this situation but it feels like there’s no end in sight.”

“We could be stuck here over Christmas and obviously we don’t want that. We just want to go home.”

A Northern Powergrid spokeswoman confirmed that they were aware of the power cut affected homes in Medburn due to Storm Arwen.

“We are unable to provide an estimated time for power to be restored for customers in the Medburn area at the moment, but I would like to reassure our customers that our teams are working to get the lights back on for customers as soon as we can,” she said.

“We have provided support to as many vulnerable customers as possible and are helping them to seek alternative accommodation where appropriate.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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