Derbyshire cricket club chairman evacuated and pupils stranded by Hurricane Sandy
THE chairman of Derbyshire County Cricket Club was last night among 500,000 people evacuated from New York in a bid to escape Hurricane Sandy.
And 40 pupils from Friesland School, Sandiacre, were stranded in their New York hotel, unable to take their scheduled flight home today after planes were grounded ahead of the storm hitting.
Chris Grant, 43, was in the Big Apple on a shopping trip and had been due to fly home last night.
He told the Derby Telegraph that he was safe and had been impressed with the evacuation effort.
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Mr Grant, of Swarkestone, said people were stockpiling emergency goods.
He said: "There's batteries, radios and water being sold like they are going out of fashion."
Hurricane Sandy was due to hit the US East Coast at about 7pm local time – midnight in the UK – last night and there were fears that it could bring an 11ft storm surge to New York.
As it collided with a storm moving in from the west and cold air from the Arctic, the hurricane was expected to wreak havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes, with states of emergency declared from North Carolina to Connecticut.
Mr Grant said: "I had been staying in the new Conrad Hotel in Battery Park but that area is a Zone A, which is vulnerable because it's close to the water, so we were moved further inland."
The year nine and 10 youngsters from Friesland School were on a trip to experience Broadway show The Lion King but had been prevented from leaving their hotel.
Among them is Joshua Chell, 15, of Draycott. Mother Diane said she had been contacting him on Twitter.
She said: "The children are in the hotel. They are with very experienced staff and a great travel company that they have used lots of times before.
"They've been bored in the hotel. I don't know how long it will be before the group gets back but I will be relieved to have him home."
Friesland School head teacher Peter Monk said he had been in touch with the group via text and e-mail.
He said: "At the age they are at it has been quite exciting as well as a scary thing. They are part of history, almost."
More than 50 million Americans were thought to be in the path of the hurricane.
President Barrack Obama had declared state emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as New York.
He said: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate.
"Do not delay, don't pause, because this is a serious storm and it could have fatal consequences."
Authorities were warning that New York could be hit by a surge of sea water that may swamp parts of lower Manhattan. Yesterday, Wall Street was closed for the first time since 9/11.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered people in low-lying areas to evacuate, while transport networks were closed.
Last night, two people remained missing after the crew of 16 on tall ship HMS Bounty – which appeared in films including Pirates Of The Caribbean – were forced to abandon ship when it was left stranded around 90 miles south-east of North Carolina.