Berks Couple Survives Hurricane Sandy at Sea

Family experiences Sandy on cruise ship

SPRING TWP., Pa. - For one Berks County couple, it was supposed to be an elegant anniversary dinner, until Hurricane Sandy ruined everything.

They were on the Norwegian Gem, headed toward Boston when things started to take a scary turn.

"Plates and glasses and silverware were sliding off the table," Robin said, who was also celebrating her 60th birthday on the ship. 

"And at the windows, you could see the waves going by. They had to be 25 or 30 foot waves," William said.

They said the ship tried repeatedly to reach land.

"Four times," said Robin. "They kept promising us, 'We're going to stop here. We're going to stop in New York,' and we didn't."

They were concerned if the ship didn't get to land soon, they would run out of medication. Robin suffers from a rare lung condition, and her husband William has a heart condition.

They also said the elevator stopped working, and passengers had to use the stairs.

Robin, who is a nurse, stopped to help one passenger struggling up the steps, despite her own shortness of breath caused by her lung condition.

"I had to stop," said Robin. "There was this old man sitting on the step with his head in his hands. He said he had open-heart surgery eight weeks ago, and he was very short of breath. So I yelled someone to get somebody from the ship."

As the trip moved on, they said passengers' patience wore thin.

"People's tempers were flying," said Robin. "Near the end, everybody was fighting to get down the steps, fighting to get in the elevator, fighting to go in line for food."

Thanks to their daughter contacting family members through Facebook, the Trates were able to get off in Boston and catch a bus back to Berks County.

"We'll remember this for a long time," said William.

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