Food for thought for all parish emergency planners. IKEA in Thurrock, let 200 stranded motorists sleep the night in their store after a crash on the M25. Don't overlook the obvious when thinking how to provide emergency beds. pic.twitter.com/tt6fFMhd6Z— Beauchamp Parish (@BeauchampPC) August 29, 2018
Generously, a nearby Ikea store allowed some of the tired motorists to take a nap in the store’s bedroom section.
According to some of the customers, around 200 people were unable to make it home, forcing many drivers to sleep in their cars. Luckily, others were able to rest by spending some time at the Swedish furniture retailer’s local branch.
Esther Rolinson, one of the drivers, took to Twitter to share her story, explaining that she was stuck in the Ikea with her daughter and that she will never be able to eat meatballs again.
My daughter & I are trapped in ikea due to crash on M25...5hrs +counting ..colouring in is saving our sanity..just...thank god for felt tips, rainbows and unicorns ..I can never face a meatball again ?? scroll to see a portrait of me when I’m old ..??..scary! pic.twitter.com/0IWgZkxcXK— Esther Rolinson - Artist (@EstherRolinson) August 28, 2018
Natasha Boardman also shared an image on social media of her friend lying on an Ikea bed, adding the two of them were happy to "finally have our room."
Even Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes got stuck because of the crash while heading to Sevenoaks, Kent, to celebrate the 14th anniversary of her 1,500m win at the Athens Olympics. But instead of a gold medal for arriving on time, the athlete got chocolates as a consolation prize.
“I came from Leeds so I’m on 10-hour journey so far. We’re on the slip road from Lakeside getting on to the M25,” she told reporters. “I’ve been given chocolates by someone because I’m celebrating 14 years today of my 1500m win in the Olympics in Athens. I was meant to have a G&T tonight and now I’m stuck on the motorway with these lovely people.”
While she had to sit and wait, she wasn’t one of the lucky people to go into Ikea for some relaxation.
Ikea told reporters that while many customers did take naps on their beds, nobody stayed overnight. Instead, they kept their doors open until 11 p.m., an hour past closing time.
“There was actually no one staying overnight. It closed as normal. There was a softer closer than normal, but the store was completely empty by 10:45 p.m.,” a spokesperson said.
Still, it appears that customers were thankful for the store's gesture.
Ikea’s quick response to this incident proves that, in times of need, it takes little to be of great service to the community. Others should follow the company’s example not only in England, but across the globe.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann