ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - For one Albuquerque man it was a business trip that turned into a nightmare after Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast.
"We all take things for granted...you have to remember all those things can be taken from you in a split second," says Paul Aaitkin.
Last week was a stark reminder of that. He captured those split seconds in dozens of pictures.
Aaitkin was in New York on a business trip.
The Albuquerque resident runs the Party Trolley .
He planned on heading home Monday, but Hurricane Sandy changed that.
"The storm started hitting Monday. It really wasn't too bad at first...a lot of rain," Aaitkin says.
That quickly changed.
He stayed at Park Central Hotel in Manhattan, where he says he felt the building sway as winds picked up.
But he would soon learn of an even bigger threat.
"We went down the elevator because we wanted to take a look at everything. Right when that happened, they said they were going to evacuate our building because a crane was going to fall," Aaitkin said.
Aaitkin says officials worried the crane would fall from 74 stories up, smash through the road and hit a gas line.
When the coast was clear, Aaitkin and a friend took the elevator back up to his room, a ride he won't soon forget.
"It goes all the way up to our floor and then starts to freefall," Aaitkin said. "Luckily, it only did it for less than a floor but the feeling of your stomach hitting your chest and knowing I'm in this elevator and there's no way out… It's not a good feeling."
He says he was stuck in the elevator for 30 minutes because of a brief power outage.
Aaitkin finally got a flight home Thursday.
"When I got to Denver, it was just such a release," Aaitkin said.
For Aaitkin it was over, but for everyone living on the East Coast, recovery efforts continue.
After seeing things firsthand, Aaitkin is urging people to donate to the Red Cross to help residents.
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