A WEARSIDE family holidaying in New York have told of how they have been stranded in the US by Hurricane Sandy which has already claimed 13 lives.
The Smiths, from Roker, are enjoying a half-term break across the Atlantic for son Owen’s 16th birthday and could now face paying hundreds of pounds more to get home, with flights cancelled until the storm clears.
The family were due to fly home today, but will now have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest to make the trip back to Sunderland.
Winds of up to 85mph slammed into the coastline late last night and hurled a record-breaking 13ft surge of seawater into the city, causing extensive flooding and leaving at least 250,000 people without power.
Owen, a pupil at Monkwearmouth School, and his mum and dad Christine and Mick have been joined by their nieces Laura and Alex as well as Mick’s sister Angela Turner, who has travelled from Toronto, in Canada, to be with them.
Christine, who hopes to return to Sunderland in time for her own birthday on Thursday, said today: “There’s nothing we can do.
“We’ve never been in a hurricane so we’re not that scared at the moment.
“However, who knows what’s to come.
“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment as the weather is fine, a light drizzle.”
Evacuation shelters have been set up in more than 70 schools in the city as many flee their homes.
Public transport was halted yesterday and the New York Stock Exchange closed as authorities did their best to avoid fatalities.
The Smiths are staying at the Sheraton Uptown Hotel and have already had to pay hundreds of pounds to extend their stay as they wait for the airports to reopen.
Mrs Smith added: “We’ve just had to book another night’s accommodation so that’s £200 so far, then whatever else we end up spending on eating and drinking.”
SAFC season ticket holder Owen, who plays football for Redby CA, said: “It’s just raining and a bit windy at the moment and most of the shops have been shut and all the public transport like the subway and buses have been stopped.
“We have been visiting all the main places such as the Statue of Liberty and Central Park and been doing some shopping.
“The hurricane isn’t really bothering me as I am getting a few extra days in New York.”
The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has said that the worst of the rain had passed for the city and that the high tide that sent water into Manhattan from three sides was now receding.
Weather forecasters say that Sandy could linger over as many as 12 states for 24 to 36 hours.
•Do you know anyone stranded or affected by Hurricane Sandy? Contact the Echo on 0191 501 7208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.