Gainsborough family speak about their Hurricane Sandy Cuban holiday experience

editorial image

THE TERRIFYING ordeal of a Gainsborough family who got caught in the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy whilst on holiday in Cuba has left them feeling ‘lucky to be alive’.

Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and devastated vast portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States when it struck last week.

Wendy Sweetman was on holiday at the Brisas Hotel in Guardalavaca, Cuba with her partner Paul Oughton, son-in-law Matt Greenwood and step-daughter Sarah Greenwood.

Wendy, 58, from Tennyson Street in Gainsborough, said it was a ‘terrifying experience’.

“We were there for six days and glorious weather,” said Wendy. “Then, on Sunday 21st October, the rain started.”

“At 3.30am on Thursday 25th October, we were telephoned and told to go into the bathroom because we were told it was the safest place as it had no windows.”

Wendy Sweetman and Sarah Greenwood on holiday in Cuba

Wendy Sweetman and Sarah Greenwood on holiday in Cuba

She continued: “Then, we could trees snapping and roof tiles blowing off and glass shattering everywhere.”

“There was a pause for the eye of the storm then it all came back - it sounded horrendous. We were very frightened.”

When they left the rooms, the family saw nothing but destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“To say we saw devastation is an understatement,” said Sandy.

Paul Oughton and Matt Greenwood on holiday in Cuba

Paul Oughton and Matt Greenwood on holiday in Cuba

“A couple that we met were staying on the 5th floor of the main building and they were lucky to be alive because their ceiling came in on their bed - luckily they weren’t in the room or they would have been killed.”

Wendy continued: “Some of the staff had completely lost their homes and other local fisherman had lost their livelihoods - we felt so sad for all of them.”

Then, despite the carnage, Wendy and the other British holidaymakers took to helping out and tidying up the debris.

“We picked up mops and brushes and did all we could to help clear up,” she said.

“People were picking sun loungers, roof tiles and even trees out of the pool.”

She went on: “Most amazing of all, were the staff - who I must say a huge thank you to. Despite all that they’d lost, they still turned up for work or didn’t go home after their night shift. They were so brilliant to us all.”

Wendy added: “We feel lucky to be alive and it really makes you appreciate what you’ve got.”

“My heart goes out to all of the Cuban people.”