Family back home after being trapped in hurricane ordeal

BACK HOME -- Gary Stones and his sons
BACK HOME -- Gary Stones and his sons

A HUCKNALL man and his family are now safely back home after being stranded in New York when Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern United States.

Gary Stones (58) and his wife, Maureen (56), of Linby Avenue, went to New York City for a relaxing long weekend after Gary’s father and Maureen’s mother both died early this year.

They travelled with their two sons, Luke (28) and Joshua (24), and the sons’ partners, Annie Burton and Laura Sellars.

Gary, who works at the Rolls-Royce plant in Hucknall, is well-known as a former assistant manager of Hucknall Town Football Club and an ex-manager of the town’s Rolls-Royce Football Club.

The family should have flown home on Sunday October 28 but their flight was cancelled at 7.03 pm — just three minutes after a plane flew to Dublin — and they were left to fend for themselves.

They found a motel on the Sunday night, paying 90 dollars, and sat through the hurricane.

The next night the motel had upped the price to 190 dollars, holding them to ‘ransom’ though knowing they needed somewhere to stay.

The family had to settle in a closed-down damaged terminal at Newark Airport, on the outskirts of New York, and slept on camp beds.

Gary said: “We feared that we would not get a flight back until Sunday. But we were highly relieved to get home in the early hours of Thursday last week.

“The original arrangement was for Annie and Laura to return first on stand-by flights but in the end we were all able to fly home together.”

Gary’s brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Tracey Stones, of Papplewick Lane, Hucknall lost contact with the family for a time but this was because they were already on the plane.

After arriving at Heathrow Airport, they had to hire a car to get to Birmingham Airport, where they had left their own two cars.

“We were very pleased to have been able to enjoy some unforgettable sightseeing in New York before the hurricane struck,” said Gary.

“It was not very nice when we found we had no power and had to sit in the dark. But it could have been a whole lot worse when you look at the loss of life and the amount of damage caused by the hurricane.”

Sandy was said to have caused at least 82 deaths.