O'Connor sees how 'nature takes charge'

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 31/10/2012

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It is 10.45pm and safe on the 20th floor of a highrise in Manhattan's Midtown, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor is listening to the building creak as Hurricane Sandy hammers New York.

He told the Nelson Mail by phone yesterday the worst seemed to have passed "but whether that is the calm before the next storm remains to be seen".

Mr O'Connor was in New York for two meetings at the United Nations, with the New Zealand mission and Food and Agriculture Organisation, which had both been cancelled. He had been due to take the train to Washington DC at 3pm East Coast time but the train had been cancelled. He was hoping to make it to Washington today, where he was to meet with Fonterra, Ambassador Mike Moore and others. He had been part of a three-MP delegation to the International Parliamentary Union meeting in Canada and had travelled to New York with his partner Sharon Flood. The couple are staying with friends.

He said he went for a run in the morning, which had been a chance to see what was going on. Central Park, where he ran, was later closed, and a street he had been on was the site of a crane collapse two hours later.

Yesterday he took a boat trip around the lower tip of Manhattan, allowing him "to see first hand the emerging threat to the area".

Mr O'Connor said the superstorm was "a reminder that even in one of the world's greatest cities, nature dominates. We've seen that for ourselves in West Coast-Tasman".

He is due back in New Zealand early next week. Nelson woman Tanya McMurtrie flies out of New Zealand today ahead of the New York Marathon on Sunday (US time), in which she still hopes to compete.

Miss McMurtrie said she was a little concerned about the storm, but was trying not to think about it because a marathon was 90 per cent psychological.

"I'm a really positive person and believe that what will be will be.

"The only possible reason I might not run this marathon will be if they cancel it.

"I'll go all the way to find out I can't do it, I've worked too hard and for too long not to."

She said she understood the worst of the storm had passed and she expected to fly into LA airport with no issues, though perhaps be delayed in getting to New York.

"On Facebook people are already talking about [if the race is cancelled] wearing their bibs and getting out there to help with the cleanup. I think however this pans out I will have an amazing trip."

Sandy, p6

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