St Albans councillor caught up in Hurricane Sandy devastation

THE devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to the East Coast of America will live long in the memory of a St Albans councillor and his family.

Anthony Rowlands, Lib Dem district councillor for Ashley ward, found himself caught up in the damage wreaked by the hurricane after arriving in America to take part in this Sunday’s New York Marathon.

He and his family were staying with friends in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, 10 miles outside New York, when the house in which they were staying took a direct hit from a 120ft oak tree felled by the superstorm on Monday night.

Anthony explained that the house had appeared to be caught in a local wind tunnel and two large trees had already come down blocking the road before his friend’s house was struck.

He went on: “Soon after 10pm there was a mighty crash as a 120ft oak, situated just to the side of the house we were staying at, was uprooted and ended up leaning against our house!”

Anthony said his son Sam’s room was showered with masonry but everyone in the property had escaped unhurt. It appeared to have been the only house locally which took a direct hit from the storm.

He was planning to move on to stay in Manhattan either yesterday or today and said a party of sixth form arts students from Loreto College in St Albans were already staying there.

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The storm left a trail of devastation across New York, New Jersey and neighbouring states and the death toll has been put as high as 40.

Flights only resumed to New York yesterday but many homes still have no power and the New York subway remains closed.

Anthony, who lives in Beaumont Avenue, St Albans, with his wife Harriet and family, works for the Liberal think tank CentreForum in London.

He was in America to take part in the New York Marathon for the second time, the first being in 2008. A keen runner, he has competed in 20 marathons and has also run the St Albans half marathon 28 times.

So far it looks as though the New York Marathon, which sets off from Staten Island, will go ahead despite the havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy, and Anthony is raising money for The Samaritans.

He said of the event: “It’s an extraordinary international event with over 45,000 competitors. The route passes through all five borough with the very welcome finish in Central Park.

“Running 26 miles doesn’t get any easier with the passage of years but I’m still way off qualifying for the Over 90 category.”

He has set himself a target of raising �4,000 for the Samaritans which he described as doing fantastic work in St Albans and across the country.

Anyone wanting to support his fundraising efforts should go to