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Norwich man caught up in Hurricane Irene drama

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 August 2011 | UPDATED: 15:18 31 August 2011

Abandoned beach front houses are surrounded by rising water as the effects of Hurricane Irene are felt in Nags Head, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011  (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Abandoned beach front houses are surrounded by rising water as the effects of Hurricane Irene are felt in Nags Head, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011 (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

A community leader from Norwich has told how he was caught up in the Hurricane Irene storm drama which has killed 40 people in the United States.

Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizens’ Forum, has just returned from visiting family on the US’s east coast, which has been battered by the 500-mile wide storm.

The storm, which has now passed into Canada, has left more than five million without power, while some areas, like Vermont, are reeling from the worst floods in decades in the wake of the storm.

The 79-year-old, who is also chairman of the City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP), had to ride out the storm while staying with his niece during a
10-day visit to Richmond, Virginia.

Mr Foster, who lives off Wensum Street in the city, said: “When I got there we knew it was coming because they gave you plenty of storm warnings and we watched TV and listened to radio and got regular updates on it.

“My niece boarded-up the property, but she’s in an old restored property which has shutters over the doors and windows and so were able to close those up.

“We battened down the hatches and just sat and waited for it to pass. It sounded like an express train going past over us and was quite unnerving. For a couple of hours it was worrying, concerning and upsetting.”

Mr Foster said he was “relieved” to have returned safely from the United States following the storm which has resulted in thousands of British travellers facing days stranded as airlines struggle to clear the backlog of flights following the hurricane.

He said: “I’m relieved to be back. My family were anxious about me and my family here were about me, but we kept in touch through Skype.”

Hurricanes on the east coast of the United States are not uncommon, but Mr Foster said it was a concern to him and his family that the storm had reached Virginia.

He said: “It’s very unusual for it to occur in Virginia, New York and New England and, therefore, it comes as a surprise.

“People in Florida can be fairly blase about it as it happens so often and they know what’s going to happen.

“I was staying with my niece and her family and they were very concerned about what was going to happen because its not a usual occurrence.”

Have you been caught up in the eye of a storm or have you got family who were affected by the hurricane? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email
peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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