31/10/2012 16:09 GMT

Superstorm Sandy: British Nationals Abandoned Passports And Belongings In New York Hotels

British nationals forced to leave their belongings in hotels when they fled Hurricane Sandy are being issued with emergency passports to help them get home, a senior UK diplomat in New York said on Wednesday.

Danny Lopez, British consul-general to New York, said consular staff were doing everything they can to help Britons stuck in the city after the devastation caused by the superstorm.

Staff have already issued emergency passports to 10 people to help them get back to Britain, he said, with a steady flow of people with similar problems expected over the next few days.

new york

Residents walk by the remains of the historic Rockaway boardwalk that was washed away during Hurricane Sandy

Mr Lopez said the main problem was people who had to leave possessions in hotels when they fled for safety ahead of the storm's arrival on Monday night, and now could not get them back in time for their flights.

"The two main airports, JFK and Newark, opened up today. Currently both airports are not at full service in any way, so it's a limited service but there are a number of flights coming in and out," he said.

"From a British perspective, the main problem we have have had to deal with are visitors who had to leave the hotels where they were, due to this dangling crane on 57th Street.

"They had to leave and haven't been able to return to get their possessions, which included in many cases their passports and documents.

"What we have been dealing with today are passengers who have come to the consul for emergency passports."

He said 10 people were issued with emergency documents today and the consul also contacted their hotels, which had agreed to send their belongings on.

"There are a number of others who are not flying today, tomorrow, or Friday and therefore they will be wanting to see if they can get back to their hotels and recover everything and, if not, they can get emergency passports as well," he said.

"I anticipate over the next few days we will have a steady flow of people.

"For the hotels that were affected, what we did over the last few days is make sure that we made contact with all British nationals and offered consular assistance where needed.

"The majority of people were first taken to a shelter and then to other hotels."

He assured Britons: "We have the resilience and consular team here to be able to deal with any eventuality.

"From our perspective, what I have got is a very strong resilient consular team who are able to deal with these inquiries."

Mr Lopez said New York was well prepared for the arrival of Sandy, which in turn meant a lot of travellers were also prepared.

With one third of the city without power, he said the devastating effects of the superstorm are obvious, but is confident of New York's ability to "bounce back".

"This is a very resilient city. What was experienced on Monday night was very big.

"The emergency responders were absolutely first-class. The advice prior to the hurricane arriving was excellent.

"The reality is that one third of Manhattan still has no power, which is a very big proportion. At night-time, Manhattan is like nothing I have ever seen.

"Millions of people in between New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are still with no power.

"There are buses but there's no subway and there is likely to be no mass transport for several days.

"There is a sense that the city has been through something incredibly devastating over the last 48 hours."

He added: "I think it will take some time for the city to be back up and running but have absolutely no doubt that this city can cope and has the resilience to bounce back as soon as possible."