Town woman caught up in superstorm disaster

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A LURGAN woman living in America has described how parts of New Jersey were turned into a ‘war zone’ as Storm Sandy left a trail of destruction on the eastern coast of the United States.

Jessica McKee, originally from the Antrim Road, has been living in Morristown, New Jersey for three months. The 21-year-old told the ‘MAIL’ she felt ‘frightened without her parents as the hurricane devastated large parts of New York and New Jersey.

As the ‘MAIL’ went to press, 50 people had died during the superstorm, which at 1,000 miles wide is one of the biggest storms ever recorded.

Parts of New York resembled apocalyptic scenes on Tuesday as properties and streets were destroyed. The New Jersey storm levee was breached, which led to three towns in the state being flooded.

Jessica, who is in America to undertake a university placement as a marketing intern with travel company CIE Tours, told the paper all she could do was lock herself indoors and wait for Sandy to abate.

The ‘MAIL’ spoke to Jessica before the storm on Monday and again on Tuesday after the superstorm had passed through her adopted hometown.

“The weather was crazy,” she said.

“Morristown is like a war zone. Live power lines are still lying all over the footpaths.

“Any time we opened a window slightly, the winds blew everything that was near the window across the room.

“It’s very unnerving to be here and do this alone. I had always lived with my parents until I moved here. It’s a lot more frightening to be here without them.”

Jessica continued: “I have been in contact with family and friends via text and Facebook. My parents are very anxious so I have been contacting them very frequently with updates throughout the course of the storm.”

Jessica’s boyfriend Mark McConville from Gilford was also caught up in the superstorm.

“Mark was staying with family an hour away from me,” Jessica explained.

“He came to Morristown on Friday to go out for Halloween on Saturday and got stranded here.”

In preparation for the storm, Mark, Jessica and her flatmates had stocked up on supplies and battened down the hatches at their apartment early on Monday.

At that stage, the young woman said Morristown had transformed into a “ghost town” from the previous 24 hours when it was “chaos and panic” as residents rushed to prepare for the unprecedented event.

The student explained: “At the beginning I wasn’t nervous at all about the hurricane as I didn’t understand the severity of it.

“I think it really became apparent to myself how serious this was when we went to the grocery store. The store was chaos. Everyone was scrambling for things like bread and cereal bars and a lot of shops had completely sold out of water.”

Jessica revealed that the Emergency Department of Morristown had contacted residents with instructions on how everyone should prepare for the storm.

She said: “We were advised to create an emergency pack including tinned food and food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

“We were also advised to keep a first-aid kit for emergencies and stock up on batteries and enough drinking water to last for a week.

“We were told to stay locked indoors and only go outside in a case of emergency.”