Superstorm strands local family in New York City

November 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The battered Eastern Seaboard resembles a set from a disaster film after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore late Oct. 29, stranding a local family in New York City.

Hurricane Sandy roared through the city as the Ridnells hunkered in a Midtown Manhattan hotel.

Inside the Ridnells’ hotel, electricity flickered as Hurricane Sandy slammed the city, but power remained on at the St. Regis Hotel during the storm.

“Staying in Midtown, we’re sort of on an oasis here,” Anthony Ridnell said Oct. 31, as cleanup efforts encompassed the city. “We weren’t hit that badly, but everything around us was just decimated.”

The family returned home Nov. 3, almost a week later than planned, after a storm-related delay.

Hurricane Sandy — technically a post-tropical cyclone at landfall — came ashore near Atlantic City, N.J., at about 8 p.m. Oct. 29. The storm caused at least 95 deaths throughout the region. Massive power outages across the Northeast left more than 8 million people in the dark.

Wanted: Connections to Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, left at least 95 people dead and caused at least $7 billion in damage.

For upcoming editions, The Issaquah Press is seeking local connections to the natural disaster and the recovery effort.

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In New York City, storm surge caused water to pour into streets, tunnels and subway lines.

Ridnell, wife Autumn, and children Madeline, 15, Gabby, 12, and Harrison, 3, stocked up on provisions from a 24-hour corner bodega before the hurricane came ashore. Later, as Hurricane Sandy descended on the Big Apple, they listened to rain and wind pelt the hotel.

“You just hope a beam doesn’t come through your window,” Anthony Ridnell said.

‘This city has been through a lot’

Winds from Hurricane Sandy caused a crane to partially collapse at a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction near Central Park, not far from the Ridnells’ hotel.

City officials evacuated nearby residents after winds sent the crane’s arm into a precarious perch over West 57th Street. Anthony and Autumn Ridnell ventured to the police cordon to see the crane dangling in the air.

“I can’t believe that thing hasn’t fallen,” Anthony Ridnell said. “It’s an engineering miracle that that thing did not go. Seeing it rock back and forth like a swing, probably moving 30 to 50 feet in any one direction, it’s amazing it just didn’t shear off.”

The skyscraper under construction is the city’s tallest residential building at 1,004 feet.

Anthony Ridnell credited Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other leaders for urging New Yorkers to prepare for the disaster and assist in the recovery effort.

“This city has been through a lot, and they make things happen,” Anthony Ridnell said.

Hurricane Sandy interrupted a trip to New York for Anthony Ridnell’s 30-year reunion at the United States Military Academy in West Point.

Nationwide, airlines canceled more than 13,000 flights Oct. 29 as Hurricane Sandy churned toward the East Coast.

Anthony Ridnell decided Sunday to stay in the city, rather than attempt to depart from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.

“With three kids, we just did not want to get stranded at Newark airport,” he said.

The family lives at Fox Hollow Farm & Equestrian Center just south of Issaquah. Autumn Ridnell hoped to return home in time for the farm’s annual Halloween celebration.

In New York City, officials canceled trick-or-treating due to the storm — a minor disappointment for the stranded Ridnell children.

“I don’t have the most dramatic story by any stretch of the imagination, but we certainly saw it all around us,” Anthony Ridnell said.

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