A TWEEDMOUTH woman will not forget her 50th birthday in a hurry after being caught up in the chaos of Hurricane Sandy.
Janis Hartley went to New York with family and friends to celebrate the milestone but saw her dream trip turn into a nightmare as the superstorm hit.
Instead of taking in the sights and shops of the Big Apple, she found herself holed up in her Manhattan hotel as the storm wreaked havoc across the city.
Alongside her were her sister-in-laws Pamela Cordery and Janis Jackson and friends Helen Rutherford and Susan Fraser, all from Berwick.
All are safe and well and due to arrive back in the UK tomorrow morning, flights permitting.
Janis’ husband, Derek, said: “They’re all in good spirits even though it’s not quite been the trip they were planning. It’s certainly one they’ll never forget.”
The group had flown out of Edinburgh on Sunday and managed a bus tour of the city and a visit to the Rockefeller Centre before the weather closed in.
“Everything seemed to shut down from about 3pm on Monday, although they were able to find an Irish pub which stayed open,” said Derek, of Greenwood. “After that they were told to stay in their hotel until the storm passed through.”
They were staying at the Hilton Times Square in Upper Manhattan and watched the drama unfold on TV.
“They said it was quite surreal watching the news on TV because they weren’t able to see that much damage on the streets where they were staying,” revealed Derek. “In fact, Janis told me she had managed to sleep through most of it!”
However, that was not the case for her relatives back in the UK.
“Like many people, we were glued to Sky News watching it all happen,” said Derek. “We were all worried about them so it was a big relief when they called to say they were fine.”
Janis, the manager of Berwick Magistrates’ Court, had been planning the trip for several years alongside her sister-in-law, also Janis, owner of Crumbs sandwich shop on Bridge Street, who also turns 50 this year.
“They were looking forward to the trip so much,” said Derek. “They had been saving up for ages and planned to do a lot of shopping. They also wanted to go on a river cruise but unfortunately that all had to be abandoned.”
On Tuesday morning they were still being advised to stay in their hotel while the clear-up operation began but they were able to take a walk later on to see some of the devastation caused.
“There’s not been that much they can do,” said Derek. “There are a few restaurants open but a lot of shops and businesses have been badly hit.”
They are still unsure whether their flight back from Newark will run as scheduled. The airport has been badly hit by flooding.
“They’re a bit anxious about that because they all have work to get back to,” said Derek.
The storm caused major flooding and cut power to millions.