Tourists seek to flee NYC superstorm

Published Tuesday, 30 October 2012
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Thousands of holidaymakers trying to leave America's storm-struck East Coast are being forced to endure another night, as flights out of the country remain grounded.

Tourists seek to flee NYC superstorm
Water reaches the street level of the flooded Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. (© PA)

A number of UK airlines have had to cancel their New York services in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc on the Big Apple on Monday - and led President Obama to declare a "major disaster" in the city.

One Northern Irish woman, who is holed up in a hotel in the Times Square area, told UTV she's scared and wants to get home to her family.

"As I look out of my hotel window there is no cars and everything just looks eerie," said Alison McClughan, who is from Comber.

"We heard a lot of wind through the night but thankfully we were well sheltered - closer to Hudson Bay it is rough. It is very scary. Anyone around that coast has had a tough time.

"A few of us popped our heads out of the hotel room last night and there was lamp posts that had come out of the ground and just a ghost town, nobody about, but because I was in the hotel I did feel safe.

A record-breaking 13ft wave of seawater deluged New York City's subway system and filled the streets amid winds of up to 85mph.

Across the city there have been building collapses, an explosion at a power station, a major fire which destroyed 50 houses and a hospital evacuation.

It's this unknown of what happens after this and obviously I want to get back to my family

Alison McClughan

Power cuts have hit 670,000 homes, but Alison said her hotel was "luckily" not affected.

"Our power stayed on but down the line in Times Square there weren't many lights on so we were very lucky," she explained.

"In the likes of New Jersey they have got it hard - now there's snow in Chicago so it's hitting different areas in different ways and it's very scary."

Transatlantic flights from Belfast International Airport, Dublin Airport and Heathrow were cancelled on Monday and the airports have asked passengers to contact them.

Virgin has axed all its New York flights. A statement said: "Passenger and crew safety is our number one priority and we are continuously liaising with local authorities to assess the situation and minimise the disruption caused to passengers wherever possible."

BA has also cancelled its flights to and from New York.

Alison said having to make new travel arrangements has been expensive - now she just wants to get back home to see her family.

"We flew into JFK and at the minute it's us getting into Newark and going home that way but its costing a lot of money," she continued.

"We were due to fly home out tonight but as you've heard that's been cancelled. We are all well insured, thankfully, but we don't know that is going to stand and it's worrying."

© UTV News
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