"SO many people have tried to shut down New York City. Many powerful men have failed. It took an act of God to bring this city to a standstill."
That was how Natisha Khan, a Trinidad and Tobago national living in New York, yesterday described the aftermath of superstorm Sandy that swept across the city on Monday night into Tuesday.
Khan, who lives at Ozone Park, in Queens, said for the first time in decades schools remained closed for three days because of bad weather.
"I spoke to some elderly people who said it was the first time in years that schools were closed for so long and even the subway," she said.
She said millions of people were still without electricity yesterday.
"I am blessed to be alive. Apart from minor damage to my home, my family and I are safe. But my friends and relatives are without power, which means they are cold and in the dark," she said.
Khan, who settled in the United States 17 years ago, said even in the September 11, 2001 terror attack the city was never shut down. "My experience with Sandy was like watching a movie. I was a terrified about trees falling on my house. Everything is at a standstill now, we didn't even experience this kind of shutdown during September 11," she said.Khan said communities were now working together to rebuild their lives.
Susan Samlal, another Trinidad and Tobago national living in Ozone Park, Queens, New York, said the sun was shining brightly yesterday. "But outside, the streets are littered and people are trying to clean up. We have no electricity and many businesses are still closed. We have no subway coming out of the city.
It was a terrible experience," she said.
She said it was difficult to get out of the city, as the transportation system was disrupted.
A Trinidad national working in the city's subway system said he workedfor three days without coming home.
"We were preparing for the storm since Sunday. We removed equipment and began shutting down the power when the flood began rising. The tunnels were flooded and at this time the water is being pumped out. Then we will go in and see how much damage. I am sure losses will be in the millions of dollars."
Samlal, a bank employee, said residents of Long Beach, Long Island, were unable to use the city's water as it was contaminated. She said schools remained closed for a third day.
The Express was told that people gathered outside a free cellphone charging station outside a closed supermarket.
Almost 300,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals were in the path of superstorm Sandy on Monday night. Airports were closed, leaving travellers stranded.
Samlal said the two major airports and the New York Stock Exchange were reopened yesterday.
Fiona Samlal-Beharry said although there were no power outages near her home, east of Long Island, power lines were down and giant trees uprooted. She said residents were advised to remain indoors until the lines were secured.
"And we were told that if power goes, it can take up to ten days to be fixed," she said.
Samlal-Beharry said her relatives in Brentwood, New York, were without an electricity supply since Monday night.
And Trinidad and Tobago nationals in Toronto, Canada were bracing for the effects of Sandy yesterday.
City resident Crisie Thomas said officials had advised resident to stock up on emergency supplies since Monday, when some 6,000 persons lost power as a result of high winds that came with a numbing mixture of rain and snow.
Local radio announcer Sham G Ali, who was on vacation in Toronto, returned home yesterday.
"We came back this morning around 4.30. We were supposed to come the day before but Caribbean Airlines cancelled all their main flights from Toronto coming into Trinidad," he said.
Ali said high winds swept through Toronto as the storm made landfall in New York.
"It was a super windy night. Where we were in Scarborough, we experienced a lot of wind. There was not as much destruction as in New York, a tree fell on a house and up until when we left last night there was one fatality," he said.
Ali said a woman collapsed and died when a sign fell and hit her on the head.