Tewkesbury School students stranded in US by super storm Sandy
PUPILS who survived Hurricane Sandy could be stranded in America for another week.
A group of 25 sixth formers from Tewkesbury School were due to fly home on Monday when the storm struck, grounding planes, severing communication links and plunging New York into chaos.
The teenagers are "all out of danger" says the school, but they are "hunkered down" with their host families in New Jersey, many without running water and electricity.
They may not be able to get a return flight as a complete group until Wednesday.
The pupils had spent 10 days on an American partnership scheme, linked with Voorhees High School, one hour west of New York, in the village of Lebanon Township.
President Barack Obama has signed major disaster declarations for parts of New York and New Jersey.
Tewkesbury School pupil Zoe Harrison, 18, said: "The hurricane hit at 3pm (on Monday) and it was really surreal to be experiencing it battering the house.
"I was really scared it wouldn't stay up.
"The wind was really bad and lasted until 6am yesterday and it's still raining. Trees were falling down and electricity cables were broken so we've no power or water.
"But I was more nervous about all the other exchanges because I'm like a mum to them. I've just turned 18 and have everyone's contacts."
Zoe and her hosts battened down the hatches. "We'd filled bath tubs and bought lots of bottled water, made lots of pancakes and cooked meat to eat.
"Now it's over it's all about making sure everyone's okay and we're just waiting to know when we can go home."
Zoe's parents Jenny and Richard said: "We're anxious to get her home safe and well, as are all the other parents we should think.
"I think we can safely say this is a trip that none of them will forget in a hurry." School deputy head Andy Steele said teacher Martin McLeman, who is with the group, had contacted him to say everyone was safe.
"He said the worst had gone past along with any danger," said Mr Steele.
Tewkesbury's town mayor, Ken Powell has inquired whether the Government can step in to help the pupils get home earlier.
He said: "They're young people stranded away from home and from their parents. It's difficult for them and I feel sorry for them."
Former Gloucestershire Echo reporter James Knock witnessed the storm from his Brooklyn home.
The 31-year-old, from Bourton-on-the-Water, said: "The wind got very loud and debris was flying around banging against cars, walls and windows.
"All the lights flickered on and off before I lost power for a bit and had to get out the candles."
Julie Franklin, Glenn Bailey and their three children from Tewkesbury, who are living in Westfield, New Jersey, also survived the hurricane. They took dramatic pictures showing that some huge trees had been uprooted.
Julie said: "Wow, we survived the hurricane.
"How exciting but scary was that.
"The devastation here is unbelievable."