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Ex-Woodhouse man tells of hurricane chaos in New York

A FORMER Woodhouse man who lives in New York says the community spirit there, following Hurricane Sandy, reminds him of home.

hurricane havoc: Shaun Broughton and Danno near his home

Shaun Broughton, has lived in the Big Apple for 16 years and says last week’s super-storm was the worst he has ever seen. But he says, in amongst the devastation, people are rallying round to help each other.

And the three Copeland women stranded in New York – Jill White, from Whitehaven, and Andrea Fowler and Gayle Curwen, from Cleator Moor – have returned home safely.

They would like to say thank you to friends and family who supported them.

Andrea said: “If people hadn’t sent us messages of support, texts or phone calls, I’m not sure what we’d have done. Thank you.”

Shaun said: “One thing I have to say about New York is we have a community spirit when disaster strikes and we all come together as one to support one another. This is what West Cumbria and New York have in common.

“Whitehaven will always be home and always in my heart. I am still a small-town boy living in the Big Apple.”

The 38-year-old, formerly of Windermere Road, was nearly killed by a moving car which was caught in strong winds just before the hurricane hit the city.

Shaun said: “We have never experienced something so bad as we did over the last few days. The storm was by far the scariest I have ever been in. I was almost killed by a car before the storm hit. A car was driving down my street when a huge gust of wind came and literally blew it across the street. It stopped not even two feet before me.”

He said: “I think by the time Sandy hit, the New Yorker in me just kicked in. We are a resilient bunch us New Yorkers and are known to be tough and just get on with it. I have to admit though when the wind was howling and rapping on the windows, we thought a tree was going to crash through our living room window.”

Shaun lives with his partner, Ray, and their dog, Danno Lee, in Kew Gardens, a suburb in Queens, which was one of the boroughs worst affected by the hurricane.

He says life in New York is “dire” as supermarkets have run out of food, gas is rationed and some homes are without power. He said the divide between the wealthy and the poorer neighbourhoods has widened.

“The rich places are thriving and are back to normal. However all neighbourhoods face gas shortages and I had to wait three hours on line to get gas. Even when I got to the gas station it was rationed and I could only get $40 worth. There have been riots at gas stations and looting in the hardest hit areas.”

He said signs are being put in shop entrances saying there is no bread, milk or eggs because there been no deliveries.

Shaun works as an intake and placements director for children in the foster care system who have a mental health diagnosis. This involves travelling to surrounding poorer areas, including Far Rockaway and Red Hook Brooklyn. Some homes in these areas are still without power and Red Cross helpers are going in to provide food and water.

“This has been the second hurricane in two years, we are simply not prepared here in New York City. The city is built on tunnels and the skyscrapers are not meant to withstand such velocity of winds. There needs to be a big rethink,” he said.

During his time in New York, he has faced major catastrophes including the twin tower attacks in 2001, the Great Blizzard of 2010 and Hurricane Irene last year.

Have your say

i agree with andy cap,its the best thing shaun could of done is get out of whitehaven maybe a hurricane could come and sweep our coucil out and put one there that actualy cares about the town.

Posted by victor on 10 November 2012 at 02:11

a bet the council there hasnt let his town run to the ground crispy, i for one cant blame people heer slagging the council off just look at whitehaven then workington, maybe you work for our council because your the only one thats happy with them.

Posted by andy cap on 10 November 2012 at 02:05

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