They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it appears hurricanes do, at least for one retired bus driver from Newport.

Alan Hartley was named an honorary New Yorker this week after stepping up to help in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane while visiting the city with his wife.

Alan and his wife Pat were visiting their daughter Rhiannon in New York when Hurricane Henri hit the state on Sunday.

“We arrived last week, and Hurricane Henri took us by surprise,” said Alan.

“Our hotel was badly damaged by wind, with many glass panels coming off balconies.

“At around midnight they decided to relocate us to a shelter in the local subway station.”

The following morning, people were being evacuated to JFK airport, using small minibuses.

Using his experience, Alan offered his assistance.

“I’m a retired Newport Bus driver and knew there was a bus shed across the road from the hotel," he continued.

"I also knew I just had to do something to help. I was allowed to drive, so started transporting people from the hotel to JFK, taking a local with me to provide guidance.

Over the course of the day, Alan ferried 387 people to the airport.

On his return from his last run, he was met with a hero’s welcome and received a thank you from the mayor of New York.

“Later that evening, I was asked to shake hands with Bill de Blasio, mayor of NYC," Alan continued.

“He handed me a card which read: ‘Alan, yesterday you were a retired bus driver. Today you’re an honorary New Yorker. Thank you so much for coming up with such a creative way to help. Next time you’re here, the strip-loin is on me. Your friend, Bill.’”

Along with the card, he was also given a small pendant which contains metal from the Statue of Liberty.

Hurricane Henri landed as a tropical storm on Sunday afternoon, hitting Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In New York City, 6.32 inches of rain had fallen on Brooklyn by Monday morning.

It is not the first time Alan has played the good samaritan overseas in the aftermath of havoc caused by extreme weather events.

Four years ago, during his silver wedding anniversary, he used his bus driving skills to help take islanders on hurricane-ravaged Saint-Martin in the Caribbean to its tiny airport for evacuation.

“I’m no hero, just a bus driver who felt I had to do something,” Alan concluded.

Alan, respectfully, we disagree, as do all those you have helped. 

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