Islington couple in eye of the storm

PUBLISHED: 09:01 19 September 2011

Sian Allen

Sian Allen


Two Islington teachers caught in a hurricane found themselves stranded in America and nearly missed the start of the new term.

Daniel Lawrence, 31 and his partner Sian Allen, 33, both teachers at City and Islington College Sixth Form, in Goswell Road, Islington, had spent the summer holidays travelling around the states.

But as they approached their final destination, New York, local news reported Hurricane Irene, which had cut a swathe of devastation across the Caribbean, was going to hit the city at the same time.

“We were a bit nervous beforehand and we didn’t know what to expect,” said Mr Lawrence. “You see the devastation they can cause on TV.”

“We went out on to the streets and it was really strange, the only cars around were taxis and the shops were boarded up. It was funny because two days before we had been on the beach and it was beautiful.”

Hurricane Irene in numbers

120 - miles per hour wind speed (195/kph)

55 - people killed

6.3 - billion pounds of damage caused

6 - regions affected (Lesser Antilles, Greater Antilles, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, United States and Canada)

9 - days long, from August 20 to 29

The couple had been due to get home in time for the new term on August 30, but then they got a text from the airline telling them their flight was cancelled.

Mr Lawrence said: “It was inevitable, the problem was the next flight was on September 7. We were really worried because we are both heads of department and there were a lot of kids coming in not sure if they had the grades to carry on to the second year.

“Luckily they moved us forward a few days – but there was still a nine hour delay.”

Mr Lawrence said in the event, Hurricane Irene was a touch underwhelming.

“I thought the storm in England in 1987 was much worse,” he said. “From our hotel we just saw a lot of rain, until we went out and saw trees knocked over we didn’t even realise that it had been bad.

“It was the only thing the American media talked about leading up to it, no Libya, nothing. You could tell how disappointed they were when it was downgraded. Our main worry was getting back in time to teach.”

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