Deluge: Heavy flooding in Lower Manhattan — as shown in these shots taken by Kellie McCants, whose family is from Bermuda — rendered the streets impassable. 14th Street and Avenue C, pictured before power failed.
Deluge: Heavy flooding in Lower Manhattan — as shown in these shots taken by Kellie McCants, whose family is from Bermuda — rendered the streets impassable. 14th Street and Avenue C, pictured before power failed.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31: Islanders in the path of ‘Frankenstorm’ Sandy yesterday told of the devastation that hit New York City and New Jersey.

Young insurance underwriter Paget Holland and her flatmate fled for their lives after flood waters inundated their Jersey City apartment.

Ms Holland, 24, originally from Paget, said her apartment near the waterfront was under eight feet of water in just a few hours.

She added: “Between 8pm and 8.30pm we were really scared. I was sitting watching Dancing with the Stars, then it happened so quickly. Then the power went off at 8.45pm. We really didn’t expect the streets to flood like they did.”

The two fled to a second floor neighbour’s apartment to escape the rising water — which levelled off just two feet below the second storey of their building.

Ms Holland added: “We have been back to the apartment  — we put everything two or three feet above the floor, but the water was way higher than that. The apartment is uninhabitable now and there wasn’t much that was salvageable.”

The massive storm has claimed 39 lives along the eastern seaboard of the US, left millions without power and is expected to cost around $50 billion to repair the devastation.

More than eight million people last night remained without electricity.

The huge storm had already claimed the lives of almost 70 people in the Caribbean before it moved towards the US east coast.

Ten of the confirmed dead were from New York City, including several killed by falling trees.

Laura Gorham, who is living in the upper west side of the city, said: “It’s like living in a sci-fi movie — I’ve been glued to the social media.

“Everything has been taped off — it’s a bit of a ghost town at the moment.

“There are places open to get groceries, but not everywhere, just a few. And there are a couple of hardcore pubs open.”

Power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses last night remained out, while the city’s public transport system was still paralysed due to widespread flooding in the lower part of the city.

Ms Gorham was staying with friends on the Upper West Side of the city for a museums’ conference —  which was cancelled due to the imminent arrival of Sandy on Monday.

Ms Gorham, who lives in Paget, said she saw a Con Edison power station explode, plunging hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses into darkness as the storm hit, even though she was miles away.

The former Bermuda National Gallery director said: “We saw a bizarre green flash in the sky, then we saw a clip on YouTube of the power plant exploding and realised what it was.”

Ms Gorham added that her area of the city had been spared the worst of the impact, which was worst in the lower Manhattan area.

She said: “We never even lost power. We just hunkered down with a glass of wine. Now everybody is just trying to figure out how to be as useful as possible and awaiting news of when things can get back to normal and keeping an eye on friends and neighbours who may need some help.”

Ms Gorham added: “Everyone is assessing the damage, but trying not to get in the way. Public transport is still off and schools are likely to remain closed.”

She added power was out from around the 30s street mark, in the grid-patterned city.

Ms Gorham said: “Downtown is basically out of power — uptown has been lucky.”

Kellie McCants, 32, who lives in Harlem, and whose mother Phyllis is from St George’s, added: “Last night (Tuesday) was very scary, with the wind gusts, which got to more than 80mph. I was just praying my windows wouldn’t break.

“There were some moments my heart was pounding — it was like being in the Wizard of Oz or something.”

Ms McCants added: “I was one of the lucky ones because I live on higher ground in Harlem.

“I was lucky not to lose power — I haven’t been outside yet and I don’t really want to.

“The flooding downtown is really terrible. Seeing it on TV is one thing – but New Yorkers are very resilient and we have been through a lot worse. But it’s still very hard to process.

“The crane that snapped, I know exactly where that is.”

Ms McCants, who works part time in Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum on 42nd Street, added: “Now it’s clean-up time, how we fix and repair things and move forward as best we can.”

Bermudian Broadway star Rebecca Faulkenberry added: “It’s pretty calm up on the Upper West Side.

“Unfortunately a lot of trees are down, but we still have power, no structural damage around me.

“The more southern areas of Manhattan not so much, the pics are pretty horrible with the flooding, and everyone below 40th is out of power at the moment.

“Mostly all chain stores are closed, like Starbucks, McDonald’s, but the privately-owned stores like the diners, and bodegas seem to all be opened and crowded.

“There is no mass transport yet either, so I’m walking everywhere but it’s pretty calm out.”

Lorraine Cooke, the area director of public relations for the Rosewood group, which owns the Tucker’s Point resort, was due to travel to Bermuda, but flights from New York were cancelled due to the storm.

Ms Cooke, who lives in the Hell’s Kitchen area of the city, said she had escaped the worst of the impact. But she added: “I keep seeing pictures and talking to friends in lower Manhattan and it’s scary.

“What’s most difficult is that the public transportation is down, so it’s tough for people to get around.

“Some areas of the city are fine, others are in a tough situation.”

But Boston in Massachusetts, although it prepared for the worst, escaped the major impact of the storm, which hit New York and New Jersey badly.

John Crellin, who managed the Hamilton Princess for five years before moving to the Boston Harbor Hotel 18 months ago, said his Bermuda experience of hurricanes helped him prepare the hotel for storm conditions. 

He added: “By Bermuda standards, it was a relatively minor event and the city and downtown proper fared very well.”