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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
One family's M5 nightmare
Traffic stuck on M5 on 20 July 2007 (pic: Rob Jervis)
Thousands of motorists spent a night stuck on the M5
A family's summer holiday got off to a dreadful start when they were stranded overnight on the M5 and missed their flight.

A 10-hour delay getting to the airport is the stuff of holiday nightmares.

The Meacham family's problems started when torrential rain began to sweep across the West Midlands on Friday, causing flooding near their home in Baughton, Worcestershire.

They were due to fly to Malaga from Birmingham airport the following morning - usually a 45-minute drive from their home.

But it soon became clear things would not be going to plan.

Daughter Danielle, 12, had been on a school trip and the family received a message that her coach was delayed by the weather and heading to an alternative location later that night to allow parents to pick up their children.

By 2200 BST, realising Baughton was itself susceptible to flooding, the family decided to set off for the airport early, the idea being they could collect their daughter on the way and arrive in plenty of time.

Danielle was still stuck on the school bus and we were trying to follow its progress
Sue Meacham

"Our village was slowly filling up with water," said Sue Meacham.

"We had to abandon our car and accepted a lift from our neighbour who has a 4x4."

Neighbour Tom Warner set off with Sue, her husband Graham, and two other daughters Georgina and Stephanie.

"Danielle was still stuck on the school bus and we were trying to follow its progress," said Mrs Meacham.

"We tried to go along the M50 but that was closed. And by the time we got on to the M5 it was also closed off due to the flooding. We just couldn't get off the motorway."

Still eight hours to go - plenty of time, she thought. Her daughter's coach was stuck on the same road but they were in touch by phone.

New flight

Along with thousands of other motorists, the family spent the next eight hours stuck on the M5.

"I could only cat nap," said Mrs Meacham. "We had nothing to eat and the toilet facilities were non-existent."

I'm just hoping I will be able to make a claim on the insurance
Sue Meacham

After the M5 reopened about 0830 BST, the Meachams got the message that their daughter's school party had arrived at a pub car park in Worcester.

They finally managed to pick her up at about 0900 BST and she was very upset, said her mother.

They arrived at the airport within the hour, but knew they had missed their flights.

Mrs Meacham said: "I had already got my father to rebook alternative flights. It cost us 1,024 for five one-way tickets. I'm just hoping I will be able to make a claim on the insurance. I could not believe this was happening."

Traffic jams on flooded UK roads


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