Hurricane Sandy traps Dalriada team in NY

Team stranded in New York
Team stranded in New York

DALRIADA School’s Bar Mock Team are stranded in New York as Hurricane Sandy sweeps across the US.

The team, along with teachers Miss Susan Gregg and Miss Louise Crawford, flew out on Thursday to compete at Empire VI: the World Championships of Mock Trial and were expected to return on Tuesday night.

However as New York goes into lock down and forecasters warn that the city could bear the brunt of the Category 1 superstorm at any time, the Ballymoney team have been delayed until ‘further notice’ and have been ordered NOT to leave their hotel.

Sandy is on a collision course with two other weather systems leading to fears it could develop into one of the worst storms on record in the US.

The superstorm is threatening up to 50 million people on the heavily populated East Coast and it is currently about 380 miles (615km) southeast of New York City, with winds of about 85mph (140kph).

Reassuring worried families and friends, trip leader Miss Gregg has been in contact with the school via two text messages stating: ‘Extremely windy and all flights cancelled out of New York. No idea when home’.

Miss Gregg also text: ‘Hotel allowed extra couple of nights - enough rooms to hold us’.

Vice Principal Dr Ian Walker explained that Miss Gregg had said that they were in Zone B which ‘doesn’t require evacuation’ adding that the place is like a ‘ghost town‘ with people ‘begging to get into rooms in the hotel’

He added: “All in all, Miss Gregg has said that the children are fine and are excited with all the drama of it all.

“They are not worried as there’s nothing they can do apart from sit tight. The hotel has a generator if the electricity goes off and the hotel has explained that the worse that can happen is that a few windows are broken.

“I was also talking to Miss Crawford a short while ago. She said they are very safe and so far it’s like a windy day at home.”

A number of the stranded pupils have also been in contact with fellow pupils and family members at home and left comments on Facebook stating that they were safe although ‘bored’ and have ‘no money’.

* The team won the Northern Ireland heats last November, placed runners-up in the National Final and were subsequently invited to apply to compete in the International competition in New York.

Dalriada is the only school to ever be selected to represent Northern Ireland at this level in the competition. They will join 35 other schools from countries such as Australia, Canada, Korea in the battle for the coveted title ‘World Champions’.