Dear Overseas Friends:
This morning I received a flurry of emails and phone calls about the health of HI-USA hostels and hostellers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Here’s a quick update for those who have family and friends on travel here.
Our hostels emerged unscathed from Hurricane Sandy. None were damaged and all have power. Our people also are in good shape. Our staff did a terrific job keeping our hostels settled during the storm. And our hostellers, adventurous in spirit, by all accounts handled the storm in stride. Here’s what the Cambridge News (England) reports from our HI-New York hostel:
The Swavesey Village College GCSE history students have been confined to their hostel next to Central Park and are not in an area affected by the flooding.
Andy Daly, acting principal of the college, said: “They departed on Saturday and spent Saturday and Sunday seeing some of the historic areas of the city before returning safely to their hostel on Sunday night.
They have had to stay in their hostel which is in a safe location in New York City until this morning having stocked up on food and water Sunday evening.
They are hoping to be able to get outside again today but are obviously following advice from the local authorities as to the best course of action. The travel company has confirmed that their flight on Thursday night (NY time) is still scheduled and they should be returning home as planned on Friday morning.
US airlines virtually closed down their East Coast operations on Monday and today, which sent scheduling ripples across the states and overseas. More than 16,000 flights have been cancelled. But most seem ready to resume tomorrow, which of course is good news for the Cambridge student visitors.
Hurricane Sandy is now ranked as among the most destructive in US history. High winds and heavy rain caused millions of people to lose power. Train and subway service was suspended in larger cities. Many buildings especially along the East Coast oceanfront were damaged.
You likely saw these hurricane images and more on the Internet and television. Yet fortunately, with several days advance warning of the hurricane, many people were prepared, evacuating coastal areas and hunkering down during the storm, and reducing loss of life. The death toll is now reported at 33.
Train service along the East Coast is expected to resume on a limited basis, as soon as tomorrow. Subway and bus service in the Washington DC area has already been restored. The closer to New York City – which suffered high winds and flooding in some areas – the lengthier the time expected for restoration of public transportation services. The New York subway system may take weeks to fully recover from flooding.
To assist travelers, HI-USA and Hostelling International are waiving hostel cancellation fees for bookings made through www.hihostels.com or www.hiusa.org for the period through 4 November 2012. Please visit our web sites for details.
Hurricane Sandy is now behind us, and we are looking forward. May everyone’s travels – even once interrupted – be safe and memorable ones.