Hartlepool people caught in Hurricane Sandy

A vehicle is submerged on 14th Street near the Consolidated Edison power plant, in New York
A vehicle is submerged on 14th Street near the Consolidated Edison power plant, in New York

HORRIFIED Hartlepool people have today spoken about being trapped in the aftermath of a deadly US hurricane.

Town businessman Dan Robinson and his mother Judith and police officer Chris Rigby have survived the impact of Hurricane Sandy – a storm the size of Europe which has claimed the lives of 13 people.

And ex-pat Mick Dutton who now lives in Cincinatti is anticipating a huge change in weather conditions when the storm hits the area around his home tonight.

The fatal storm, which has now been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but still carrying hurricane-like winds, slammed New York with a record-breaking 13ft tidal surge after winds of up to 85mph battered the coast late last night.

Several parts of the city have been left several feet underwater, buildings have crumbled to the ground, and at least 250,000 people are without power.

The four from Hartlepool have spoken about their experiences of one of the worst storms in history to hit America for a generation.

Dan, 35, son of the late Hartlepool businessman Gus Robinson and chairman of Gus Robinson Developments, is currently in Manhattan and tweeted on social networking site Twitter that the building he was staying in was creaking under Sandy’s force.

He said: “Manhattan is dark. Major power cuts across the city, severe flooding downtown and a couple of buildings have collapsed.

“Just had an 85mph gust. My building is starting to creak.”

Town man Chris, 28, a Cleveland Police officer who left Hartlepool for the Big Apple in March to work as a soccer coach for the New York Red Bulls, has been staying on 35St West New York, close to Times Square, for the last week.

Chris, a dad-of-one, said from 7pm on Sunday the city became a “spooky ghost town” with subways, shops, bars and restaurants, public transport, and bridges in and out of Manhattan all closing, and worried people scrambling to buy in water and food.

Former Clavering Primary and Henry Smith School pupil Chris, whose two visiting friends have had their flights back to the UK cancelled as a result of Sandy, said: “Picture it, hardly any traffic, homeless finding any possible shelter possible, water starting to build up on sidewalks and roads, high winds, broken trees, cop cars everywhere you look, driving and patrolling the street telling people to prepare and get indoors, sirens every five seconds from cop cars and fire engines, subway stations taped off.

“Being in the middle of this hurricane, as ironic as it sounds, feels like a once in a life time event.

“It will be a story to tell for years to come.”

And former Hartlepool Grammar School student Mick, 68, who lives in Cincinatti, with his wife Linda, daughter Donna and son Jonathan, is preparing for the storm to hit later today, days after sunbathing in 80 degree conditions.

The Global Sales Director for G.E.Schmidt Inc in Cincinnati, and Cushway-Schmidt Ltd in Hastingwood Essex, said: “We will apparently catch the edge of it tonight into tomorrow.

“They are even talking about snow, which is crazy since it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit here last week.”

There have been reports of a more than 13 fatalities, including a man whose house was hit by a tree in the Queens borough of New York and two people killed in the state of New Jersey further down the coast.

A crane on the top of a high-rise building in Manhattan partially collapsed while the facade of a four-story building in the Chelsea neighbourhood crumbled to the ground.

Footage also showed severe flooding in parts of the city with subways and roads underwater.