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Film-maker a witness to devastation in New York

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

  • A deserted East River Parkway in Chinatown as New York City battles the devastating effects of Super Storm Sandy.

  • Cars submerged as Super Storm Sandy hits Downtown New York. Picture courtesy of Joshua James Richards.

  • Penzance film-maker Joshua James Richards in New York.

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A PENZANCE film-maker has described huge trees being uprooted, shards of glass flying past his window and the fronts of buildings collapsing as Super Storm Sandy raged through New York.

Joshua James Richards, a former Penwith College student, moved to the city three years ago to study a Master's at New York University Film School, and was also there during Hurricane Irene last year.

He told The Cornishman at first it was "basically a wee bit gusty" but on Monday night said he might have spoken too soon and the storm had picked up, causing destruction across the city.

"She's really rearing her ugly face; it's getting pretty intense," he said. "Downtown Manhattan is pretty badly flooded. The parks have been completely ravaged.

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Uprooted

"Huge trees have been uprooted, lying in the road, the front of bodegas and delis swept away.

"Friends of mine have had their windows blown in, and broken shards of metal are flying past our windows.

"The front of a building right by my school in the city has completely collapsed. Some friends of mine have been evacuated in New Jersey and Queens."

New York subways and schools, as well as the Stock Exchange, were shut down in the run-up to the hurricane, thought to be the biggest ever to hit the east coast of the USA.

Sandy swept in with hurricane-force winds, bringing severe flooding, cutting power and claiming more than 40 lives. The storm caused a record surge of seawater in New York City, flooding subway and road tunnels and plunging much of Lower Manhattan into darkness.

An estimated 50 million people could be affected, with up to one million ordered to evacuate.

Joshua said he had received a text from New York University asking residents not to use elevators and not to evacuate.

An electrical shutdown had also affected his halls of residence.

He said many people in New York had not expected the storm to cause quite as much damage as it had.

"I think for a lot of people, this was a 'cry wolf' situation," he said. "With Irene being so tame last year, people didn't know what to expect from Sandy.

"Although she was downgraded from a hurricane when she hit NYC, she's still done a lot of damage. The New York Times is not painting a pretty picture right now.

"This is the worst damage the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] subway system has ever had. They can't say when the trains will be back up. It's worse than anyone thought.

"We're all pretty much stranded for now."

In spite of the shutdown this week, Joshua says he loves living in New York. "I still smile to myself every day as I walk to school on Broadway," he told The Cornishman, "but you know what? It's still not as good as the view from Penwith College."

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