Dream holiday hit by New York storm

The Rev Gillian Paterson of Wellesley Parish Church in Methil, and daughter Christina.
The Rev Gillian Paterson of Wellesley Parish Church in Methil, and daughter Christina.

IT was meant to be a special 21st birthday holiday trip to that greatest of cities, New York.

But a mother and daughter from Leven found themselves holed up in a hotel – 32 floors up – as America’s east coast was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.

Thankfully, the Rev Gillian Paterson and daughter Christina came through the ordeal unharmed and were able to return home on their scheduled flight.

But the trip left them with a lasting image of the sheer power of nature, and the sense of disbelief felt by New Yorkers that disaster was hitting them again.

The first day or so went perfectly for Gillian, minister at Wellesley Parish Church in Methil, and Christina, whose birthday they were there to celebrate.

But, by Monday of last week, the city was virtually deserted and in lockdown, as people prepared for the massive storm.

It hit about 6pm local time and pounded the city for 12 hours.

Gillian and Christina heeded warnings to stay away from the windows in their Manhattan hotel room, near Times Square, and spent the time reading, watching televison and trying to sleep.

But Gillian said the power of it was incredible and, for a couple of hours, it was frightening, as the building felt as if it was moving.

Despite the general sense of disbelief, she added, the authorities coped as well as they could under the circumstances.

By Wednesday, with transport systems still down, debris scattered and half the city without power, Christina and Gillian managed to get a cab to Newark airport and left on the first flight back to Scotland after the storm.

Great swathes of the city were still in darkness when they left and Christina said she felt very sorry for those affected.

Despite ironic comments from her minister friends about ‘acts of God’ – and plenty of material for sermons – Gillian said she took comfort from her faith during the storm, which was a very strong reminder of the force of nature.