Ipswich/Virginia: Former Ipswich student tells of community battle after being hit by hurricane floodwaters in America

A FORMER Suffolk man has today told of panic-buying in the American town he has made his home as Hurricane Sandy headed for the community.

Vincent Whitfield, a former Castle Hill Primary School pupil in Ipswich, said despite suffering a loss of power and flooding no-one in his neighbourhood was seriously hurt.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Newport News in Virginia and works as a public relations specialist at NASA’s Langley Research Centre, said: “When the news channels began reporting that Hurricane Sandy was forming over the Caribbean last week local residents began the usual stocking-up of supplies and many supermarkets such as Wal-Mart soon had long queues while residents cleared the shelves of essentials like bottled water and bread.”

His neighbourhood was placed under a flood watch, and he moved his motorcycle and car to a multi-story car park.

“I did this to protect them from flooding and walked back to my apartment knowing that I would have no means of escape if I needed to evacuate – a chance I was willing to take after losing a car to flooding in 2011’s Hurricane Irene.

“On Sunday afternoon and evening my building experienced a loss of power due to fallen trees hitting power lines and moderate flooding, a few trees fell over in my parking lot but there were no casualties and no serious property damage.

“I definitely felt branches and debris slamming against the siding and windows and the whole building shake in some of the 60mph-plus gusts of wind.

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“The most intense part of Hurricane Sandy is the water in places I’ve never seen it before because of the coincidence with the full moon, at high tide, large mile-long bridges the size of the Severn Bridge were underwater-thats a huge rise in water level.

“I guess Virginia got away with less of an impact that New Jersey or New York.”