30 Oct 2012

New Zealanders take shelter from Sandy

10:19 pm on 30 October 2012

A New Zealander in New York has described roaring winds and destruction as a super-storm hit parts of eastern United States.

Tropical cyclone Sandy first made landfall on the coast of New Jersey near Atlantic City about 8pm (local time) on Monday with winds of about 129km/h, closing financial markets, paralysing transport networks and causing mass evacuations.

Up to 60 million people could be affected, with hundreds of thousands ordered to evacuate homes in several states. An estimated 6 million are without power on the eastern seaboard. Transport has halted in eastern cities and thousands of flights are grounded.

Nicola Collings, who lives on Manhattan's East Side, told Radio New Zealand the strong winds have blown things off the rooftop of her apartment. She said her apartment has lost power and she has filled up her bath tub with water in case water services fail.

Ms Collings said the streets are dark and the storm was extremely frightening.

Sarah Knowles, a New Zealand freelance journalist living in Upper West side, said several New Zealanders have gathered at her apartment for the night.

Ms Knowles said there has been a sense of panic, with people rushing to supermarkets to stock up on last-minute supplies. She said their group is prepared to evacuate to a shelter if need be.

Labour MP stranded in New York

A Labour Party MP stranded in New York says conditions were quite dangerous on the streets as wind speeds picked up and windows in the apartment he is sheltering in were moving.

Damien O'Connor is stuck in mid-town Manhattan after his train to Washington DC was cancelled.

New Zealand ambassador Mike Moore, who is in Washington, says New Zealanders in affected areas should listen to the advice of the officials.

Mr Moore says the storm is nothing like the cyclones that hit New Zealand. He says there are strong winds in the area, but thankfully it is relatively sheltered.