Leicestershire pupils describe night tropical storm Sandy hit New York
Schoolgirls from Leicestershire have been describing the night tropical storm Sandy battered the east coast of America forcing US President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster.
The teenagers from Leicester High School were holed up in their hotel rooms in Times Square in Manhattan as the fierce winds and waves buffetted the city.
A record 13ft tidal surge sent seawater cascading into large parts of New York City's subway system, road tunnels and underground car parks.
Across the city, a power sub-station exploded, a hospital was evacuated and fire destroyed 50 homes.
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At least 16 people were reported dead across several US states.
One of the High School pupils Sorcha Whyte, 17, from Market Harborough said: "The worst part was waiting for the unknown, this was our first major storm and seeing the American news was alarming.
“Seeing the spread of darkness across New York as the power shut off was scary.
She added: "Throughout the night there were fire engines whizzing up and down.
"Outside was a ghost town, homeless people had abandoned their trollies.”
Fellow sixth former Sophie Upcraft, 17, said: “Lying in bed at midnight and hearing the silence then the beginning of the wind with the lights flickering was scary. We missed the power cut by three blocks.
"The sound of the wind was like a tube train"
"Times Square is a ghost town, eerie sirens can be heard every so often.”
Head of sixth form Angela Lancini, one of the four teachers with the party, said: “Fortunately we missed the worst of it.”
“But we were extremely lucky being in the city centre in the middle of Manhattan as the high buildings sheltered us from the full force of the winds."
“We kept power on although the lights flickered. The hotel told us to stay in our bedrooms and not to use the lifts. Times Square was deserted and that was very eerie.
“The seafront down by Battery Park and Ellis Island, which we had visited on Sunday, was badly affected.”
Deputy Head teacher Diana Wassell has been acting as a liaison between the pupils and their parents.
She said: “The girls have coped very well. They managed to get in vital supplies.
“The hotel has been marvellous extending their stay and giving them advice.”
Miss Wassell said the girls had managed to keep in contact with their parents on mobile phones and emails although internet connections had been affected by flooding.
She added: “The advice from the hotel is to stay indoors but our travel agent is looking to see if it will be possible to transfer to Washington.”
They are hoping to get a flight out of Washington tomorrow so they can arrive back in Leicester on Thursday.
Related article: Leicestershire pupils trapped in New York by Hurricane Sandy