Superstorm just another battle

IF she could survive breast cancer, the Newcastle earthquake and tropical cyclone Rosita, then she could easily battle it out against hurricane Sandy in New York.

That was the attitude of Tingira Heights resident Melissa Histon-Browning, who was in the city on a business trip when the superstorm hit.

As the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, hurricane Sandy spanned 1800 kilometres and devastated parts of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and north-eastern United States.

To date hurricane Sandy has claimed the lives of more than 100 people, caused severe flooding, power blackouts, subway closures and trapped residents inside waterlogged homes.

The damage bill is expected to be more than $US20 billion.

Hurricane Sandy hit New York City last Monday, October 29, with winds up to 155km/hour battering the city.

Mrs Histon-Browning said New York was in a state of absolute bedlam and chaos after the storm.

When The Star spoke to her last Friday, she said she felt trapped in the city.

Four days after the storm hit, her earliest possible flight back to Australia was on Monday, a week later than her intended departure.

"The city is just the image of a nightmare," she said.

"It has just completely shut down.

"People are everywhere, hundreds of cabs are blocking the streets and the eight million people who live here are just in a state of shock.

"Hotel lobbies look like refugee camps, it is just so sad because there is nowhere to go with [no] power and water."

Mrs Histon-Browning and friend Denise Duffield-Thomas, also from Newcastle, first learnt of the hurricane on Saturday, October 27, when they overheard people in the street.

Speculation of the strength of the storm, when it would hit and the extent of the damage was rife.

It was the unknown that scared the Novocastrians the most.

With fears of being flooded in and trapped downtown New York, the women moved from their hotel on 27th Street to a hotel on 48th Street - a decision which proved to be valuable as the 27th Street hotel was one of the first to be hit, suffering from flooding and electricity blackouts.

Mrs Histon-Browning said the biggest challenge they faced was a shortage of food and the prospect being trapped in the city for an unknown time.

As The Star went to print the pair was at the airport waiting to board a flight home.

CLOSED: (above) Tingira Heights resident Melissa Histon-Browning  at the entrance to Central Park on Central Park West, fenced off and closed post hurricane.

CLOSED: (above) Tingira Heights resident Melissa Histon-Browning at the entrance to Central Park on Central Park West, fenced off and closed post hurricane.

The damage to the park is easy to see, with it covered in debris. It was closed to the public while the storm damage was cleaned up

The damage to the park is easy to see, with it covered in debris. It was closed to the public while the storm damage was cleaned up