A STRANDED Hucknall family have found themselves embroiled in a nightmare ordeal after being caught up in the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy to the eastern United States.
Gary Stones (58), right, and his wife, Maureen (56), had looked forward to a relaxing long weekend for sightseeing in New York City after Gary’s father and Maureen’s mother both died at the beginning of the year.
They travelled with their two sons, Luke (28) and Joshua (24), and the sons’ partners, Amanda Burton and Laura Sellars.
Gary is employed at the Hucknall Rolls-Royce works and is well-known in the town as a former assistant manager of Hucknall Town Football Club.
The family were due to fly home from Newark Airport, New Jersey, on the outskirts of New York last Sunday but found that their flight was cancelled as the state braced itself for the arrival of the superstorm, which has now claimed 32 lives and caused an estimated $20 billion worth of damage to the ‘city that never sleeps’.
They went to a motel a mile away from the airport and paid $90 for a room. But when it became clear that the storm was on it way, the motel put up its price to $190 da night, the equivalent of £140.
Gary, who spoke to the Dispatch by phone, said the family found themselves stranded at the airport as the weather deteriorated, leading to fierce winds and major flooding.
“We ended up having no electricity whatsoever,” said Gary. “Even the emergency lights went out and we sat in the dark.”
The family’s flight was re-scheduled for Tuesday but that too was cancelled. Gary said they had been told it could be Sunday before they are able to fly back to Birmingham Airport, where they have left their two cars.
“We feel as if we have been left miles from anywhere,” said Gary. “I can’t believe how disorganised everything is.”
The family are staying in an airport terminal which has been put out of use after the windows blew out, and they have been given camp beds to sleep on. The only food available to them has been from a local cafe which serves pizzas and burgers.
Gary’s brother, Paul Stones, and sister-in-law, Tracey, live on Papplewick Lane, Hucknall. Tracey (48) said on Wednesday night that they had lost contact with the family. “We have no idea when they will be able to get back home,” she added.
Millions of people in the States woke to scenes of destruction wrought after the powerful storm destroyed buildings, flooded streets and cut power to parts of the nation’s most popular regions.
More than 15,700 flights were cancelled and New York’s extensive subway network was closed.