A 64-year-old gritter has been working around the clock to clear northern regions engulfed in snow and ice during January.
Paul Dyson was already experiencing his busiest month in living memory before Storm Christoph hit – which has been causing chaos across the top half of England.
2,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Greater Manchester earlier this week, with flood water spilling out from the River Mersey.
Heavy snow has also created problems – with a large sinkhole swallowing a car on a residential street in Gorton on Wednesday evening.
The Environmental Agency and emergency services have advised against travel if possible. But in the midst of an international pandemic, thousands of frontline staff still need to reach their place of work, with access routes to many venues blocked up.
But that’s where Paul is trying to help.
As the owner of private gritting company Gritting Direct, Paul has been clearing dozens of roads since the turn of the year.
His firm has contracts with education facilities, doctors surgeries, manufacturing firms and banks in the north, and the gritter claims that the past few days have been some of the most demanding he can remember.
“This season we’ve been very busy. It’s caught a lot of people out,” Paul said.
“The most important thing for us is that people don’t make unnecessary journeys as this slows us and the council down when we’re clearing the roadways.
“Our aim is and always has been to keep people safe during the winter months, so if your journey isn’t 100% necessary, the safest thing to do is stay at home.”
More snowfall, ice and flooding is expected over the coming days – meaning difficult conditions for anyone who does need to travel.
For essential trips, Paul has urged people to pack sturdy shoes with good grip, along with warm clothing, bottled water and basic food supplies in the event of being left stranded.
“With the snowfall in early January, many drivers ended up stuck in huge queues of non-moving traffic,” Paul says.
“There were reports of people delivering bottles of water on foot to desperate drivers. Make sure you have warm clothing, drinks, and snacks in the car to keep you going if you do get stuck.
“Snow and ice immediately increase the risk of accidents tenfold, so you never know when traffic will come to a standstill.”
Paul has also reminded people to check their fuel levels before they hit the road, and to pull over panic sets in.
The gritter stated: “If you happen to spot that snow is forecast, and you know you’ll still need to drive – make sure your fuel is topped up so you can get from A to B as smoothly as possible and minimise your time on the road.
“When you’re driving in the snow, you need to be able to think calmly and rationally. Panic can inhibit our ability to react rationally. If you feel yourself panicking, pull over and only continue driving when you feel safe to do so.”
You can continue to check flood alerts for your area by visiting the Flood Warning Information Service website.
Updates on weather/driving conditions are also available via:
- Greater Manchester Police – @gmpolice
- Manchester City Council – @ManCityCouncil
- Transport for Greater Manchester – @OfficialTfGM
- The Met Office – @metoffice