Journalists beat obstacles to reach US disaster zones

 Journalists and crews from the BBC and ITN spent three days waiting for a chartered flight to leave Stansted Airport, while colleagues both overseas and in the United States struggled to reach Washington and New York when the transport system ground to a halt.

Faced with a 1,800-mile journey from Nicaragua, Stephen Sackur, the BBC’s Washington correspondent  decided that the airports would be closed "for a long time" and, with cameraman Harry Shoffner and producer Karina Rozenstals, took a flight to Monterrey in Mexico. By the following morning they had crossed the border and reached San Antonio where they managed to hire a van at the airport.

"We drove to Houston, and then picked out cities along the way, hoping that one would be open, but all of them were completely shut up," said Sackur.  When he arrived in Washington, Sackur was immediately on duty.

"I just had time to get back to have a shower and change," he said. "I don’t think I’ve been looking my best."

ITN’s Europe correspondent, Bill Neely, was in Calais reporting on the refugee crisis and took a holiday charter to the Dominican Republic, flying to Venezuela and Miami before arriving in New York on Friday.

"I never thought that it would take me four days," said Neely.

"It’s such a huge story it’s good to be involved even five days after the event.

"It’s helped me understand the scale of it, because even now when you go there you can still smell the fire and feel the dust and breathe the smoke, and the figure of 5,000 people really comes home." lNews of the World American editor Stuart White was in Los Angeles when the World Trade Center was hit, and drove across the US with Martin Grimes of the LA-based Splash agency to get to New York.

White spent the two days on the road, gathering copy along the way and crossing the New York state line late on Friday. He filed his first account at 2:43am Saturday morning.

It had taken him 56 hours to drive from LA to New York and file his report from the scene. He covered 2,819 miles by car – but had to walk the last six miles through Manhattan because vehicles were banned.

By Julie Tomlin

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