Riding out Hurricane Sandy

A brother-in-law of Surrey Coun. Mary Martin is stationed in a tug boat off the coast of New York.

John Campbell is aboard the Margaret Moran in New York during Hurricane Sandy.

John Campbell was rocking on a tug boat in New York harbour as Hurricane Sandy touched land.

Campbell, 66, stayed put until the city of New York cleared all the ships out of the harbour.  Then he high-tailed the 110-foot Margaret Moran into an inner passage where he and his vessel would be safer.

“We’re over in Port Newark right now, just tied up to a bunch of sand scouts,”  Campbell told The Leader in an interview by cellphone Monday. “It’s a narrow channel, so there’s no place for (the storm) to build up.”

Hurricane Sandy neared landfall in New York on Monday morning, bringing with it winds of 150 km/h. It also washed floodwaters into New York, toppled street signs, and buckled a crane.

Canadian authorities are warning that the storm will also impact Ontario and New Brunswick, bringing winds of up to 90 km/h.

Campbell, who is the brother-in-law of Surrey Coun. Mary Martin, said the winds hitting New York were intense.

“It’s raining, but it’s blowing sideways,” Campbell said. “The top of the waves are being blown off, everything is sideways.”

That said, he’s not overly concerned for his welfare or about the fate of his boat.

“We have enough power to overcome the wind, we’re in a protected area, so we should be fine,” Campbell said.

About an hour after he got off the phone with The Leader, the winds changed, and a four-foot chop began to hammer the Margaret Morgan for about three hours.

A container barge was tossed up on the dock by the high tide and rough sea.

“We were tied down pretty good, so we were okay,” Campbell said.

The same could not be said for a 10-acre lot of brand new Hyundais and Nissans that were flooded to the roof.

Campbell also said there were 100-year-old buildings flooded right to the second floor.

“We survived it okay, everything else is devastated around here,” Campbell said Tuesday. “The cars in the parking lot were floating around like soap in a bathtub.”

On Monday, Campbell’s fate wasn’t as clear, and Martin was concerned.

“Of course I am,” she said, adding part of her brother-in-law’s charm is how calm he remains in situations like this.

Martin was also concerned about her two sister-in-laws who live in the area.

“I have one in the Glen Falls area, which is close to Albany, and I have one in the Adirondacks,” Martin said.

Authorities evacuated some people from the Adirondacks Monday morning, but not Martin’s sister-in-law Nicole.

Like Campbell, Nicole, who lives right on Lake Sherman, is taking the storm with a high degree of calm.

Both Nicole and Kathleen – from Glen Falls – are nurses and went to work as usual on Monday morning.

The storm also caused several flight cancellations.

One of those affected Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who was planning to fly to Red Hook, New York for some more study of community courts, which are part of Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy.

That trip has been delayed until the storm passes.

By Tuesday morning, there were at least 40 people killed from Hurricane Sandy, and between $10- and $20 billion damage.

Campbell, who’s lived in New York all his life, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“Everybody’s in shock, there’s no power at all on Staten Island, New Jersey has no power,” Campbell said.

There were more than 7 million people without power on the Eastern Seaboard Tuesday as the tropical storm made its way into Eastern Canada.

One woman in Toronto was killed when the panel from a Staples sign blew on top of her as she walked through a mall parking lot.

The storm is expected to make its way through the Toronto area late Wednesday, then north of Montreal and into New Brunswick.

@diakiw