DEVASTATED: Brian Hajeski, 41, of Brick, New Jersey, reacts yesterday after looking at debris of a home that washed up on the Mantoloking Bridge the morning after superstorm Sandy rolled through, in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Sandy made landfall on Monday. —Photos: AP

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'IT WAS SCARY'

Trinis safe but shaken in New York as Sandy kills 48

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

FIRST came the wind.

"It was scary. Hours before Sandy was even expected to hit, the wind was raging. The trees were swaying in the wind. Imagine seeing a big oak tree dancing," Anju Singh, a Trinidad and Tobago national living in Ozone Park in Queens, New York, told the Express yesterday.

Then came the rain.

"In the midst of the heavy portion of the storm, late yesterday (Monday) around 6.30 p.m. a massive tree on the corner closest to (my girlfriend's) home collapsed under the severe pressure of the 50-kilometres-per-hour winds," Saleem "Kaaz" Hosein, a Trinidad and Tobago national living in Brooklyn, New York, said.

Then the power went out.

"The loss of electricity is always terrible. When the power goes that affects everything. Before Sandy hit, we already cooked everything in the fridge because when Hurricane Irene hit last year we did not have electricity for a week and all the food spoiled," Gary Stephen, a Trinidad and Tobago national living in New York, said yesterday.

On Monday night, the United States East Coast was ravaged by superstorm Sandy.

Millions of people, including an estimated 300,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals, were among those who felt the effects of Sandy's wrath.

Travellers were stranded by the closure of airports, among them Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott.

Walcott travelled with his mother, Beverly, to New York last Thursday to receive a Sunshine Award.

Walcott's coach, Ishmael Lopez, said the Olympic champion and his mother were both safe.

The Express yesterday spoke to several nationals who were affected by superstorm Sandy to get a first- hand account of the experience.

Singh lives in Ozone Park in Queens, New York , five minutes away from the John F Kennedy airport.

"It was really eerie, really dark and windy and people living around us within blocks of us do not have power because transformers blew up," Singh said.

"When the rain came we had things flying around the air, it was looking like a tornado, it was massive wind and you could feel the house shaking," she said.

Luckily, Singh said she only experienced electricity loss for 15 minutes.

Because Singh lives in a high-rise apartment, she was not affected by flooding like her neighbours.

Brooklyn resident Hosein said yesterday: "All low-lying areas below 12 feet above sea level were placed under mandatory evacuation. I shuttered my apartment and evacuated Brooklyn for my girlfriend's apartment in Whitestone, Queens."

Hosein and his girlfriend are now trapped in the apartment because of felled power lines.

"The largest tree on the block was uprooted, taking down all major electric and cable lines on the street, leaving a two-block span without power. There are many live electric lines hanging in front of the homes which are still humming with the high voltage as many remain trapped in their homes," he said.

Stephen has experienced six hurricanes in New York.

He never experienced a hurricane in Trinidad and Tobago.

"The main difference with this one is that we felt that it would have been far worse than all others before. People were calling it 'Frankenstorm' and other names giving it an ominous air," Stephen said.

"Like all the others before it, what we did was ensure we were prepared. We got our supplies, and we got on our knees and prayed," he said.

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