Footballer's hurricane hell

A FORMER Ipswich Town star today told how his dream Mexican holiday turned into a living nightmare when Hurricane Wilma ripped through an idyllic holiday spot forcing him and his wife to take refuge in a cinema and a multi-story car park.

A FORMER Ipswich Town star today told how his dream Mexican holiday turned into a living nightmare when Hurricane Wilma ripped through an idyllic holiday spot forcing him and his wife to take refuge in a cinema and a multi-story car park.

Roger Osborne, wife Margaret, brother David and sister-in-law Pat had been enjoying a two-week break in the city of Cancun when winds of up to 165mph swirled across the Gulf of Mexico towards the popular tourist resort.

The group - along with thousands of other holidaymakers - were instructed to leave their beachside hotel and move inland to avoid the brunt of the fierce storm, which brought with it several inches of rain.

But when their cinema refuge began to collapse under the force of the storm, the family were forced to sleep on the floor of a multi-storey car park in among vehicles.


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Mr Osborne, who famously scored the winning goal in The Blues' 1978 FA Cup final triumph, said: “We were not aware that anything was up until my wife visited a nearby island to swim with dolphins and they closed it down because the locals knew the hurricane was coming.

“We were moved from our hotel last Thursday (Oct 20) which was right on the beach front. Everyone along a 20-mile stretch on the beach was moved inland for their own safety.

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“We were right in the eye of the storm when it struck and it was horrendous.

“It's the first time we have been to Cancun and while the first week was a dream holiday, the second was a total nightmare.”

The Osbornes, along with more than a thousand other guests, were shepherded from their hotel to a ten-screen cinema where they were forced to take refuge, sleeping between seats and in alleyways.

Mr Osborne, who lives in Rushmere, said: “The mess there was awful and the roofs of the cinemas were collapsing and caving in around us.

“The cinema was a disaster waiting to happen because people were sleeping in the fire exits and on the stairs - if someone had panicked it could have been very dangerous.”

With no sanitation or electricity, illness quickly spread, with many suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting.

Because of the growing risk that the cinema could collapse, the Osbournes were taken to a multi-storey car park nearby and while the structure was far sturdier than their former refuge, the evacuees were forced to sleep on concrete floors among the vehicles left in the car park in conditions even worse than before.

Because of the high-levels of sickness, the holiday-makers were then moved on to a bull ring, before being taken back to their hotel once the winds had subsided to collect their luggage.

After a six-hour bus trip, the group arrived at a smaller airport where there were thousands of people trying to make their way out of Mexico.

Now safely back home in Suffolk, Mr Osborne said he, his wife, brother and sister-in-law were planning to spend a few days recuperating after their ordeal.

He added : “It's such a relief to be back. We've had to go through a total nightmare, but we count ourselves very lucky.”

Hurricane Wilma swelled into a dangerous Category Five storm and was one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.

Its winds of nearly 165mph and heavy rainfall threatened Cuba, Mexico and the Cayman Islands.

At least 11 people were killed in Haiti by floods and landslides associated with Wilma and because the hurricane moved at speeds of just 7mph, its devastation was concentrated on the areas it hit.

The strong winds forced music television station, MTV, to postpone its Video Music Awards Latin America, which had been scheduled to take place in the resort of Playa del Carmen in Cancun.

The storm was the record-tying 12th hurricane of the season, the same number reached in 1969.

Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 1,200 people along the US Gulf Coast in August, while hundreds more died in Mexico and Central America when Hurricane Stan struck earlier this month.

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