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Editors survive holiday hurricane horror

Two regional newspaper editors have told how their holidays to Florida became dominated by the worst hurricane to hit the area in more than ten years.

Rob Lawson, editor of the Sunderland Echo, and Andrew Smith, a former Echo editor and now editor of the Northumberland Gazette, are on separate holidays with their families in the storm-hit US state.

Rob is holidaying with his wife and two sons in Polk County, where 16 deaths have so far been attributed to Hurricane Charley.

Power cuts there are due to last at least another week after a path of destruction was carved through the area in three hours on Friday evening.

Ocean-front homes were ravaged, trailer parks torn apart and small planes destroyed.

Rob said: “We knew it was coming and we prepared ourselves for it by stocking up on water and batteries.

“It was scary, we kept thinking it was going on to get worse.”

Residents there are being advised to boil water, and there is a curfew in many areas.

Andrew is staying in Kissimmee, Orlando, with his wife and daughter, in an area that escaped the eye of the storm.

But he says the impact of the Category 4 storm was still felt hard at their holiday home.

He said: “We went into the central room in the house, away from the windows.

“When the hurricane hit, the house was shaking and the windows rattled and there was a lot of banging and clattering noises. It was pretty frightening. It lasted about 45 minutes and afterwards it just went very quiet.”

He said that people had been preparing themselves for the worst, with schools and theme parks closed in anticipation of the storm.

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