Hurricane Sandy Affecting Students Almost One Month Later


(Photo provided by Courtney Ullger, of RIT showing damage in Masspequa, NY.)

When Hurricane Sandy first threatened the east coast, students at RIT begged for a day off. Yet, the few inches of rain, and gusty winds was not nearly enough to close down the institution. While our campus may have been left reasonably untouched, many students are now finding themselves in a difficult predicament weeks later. Should they go home for the break, knowing that, for many, their houses are still without power, seeing flood and wind damage, and/or don’t resemble much of a home at all?

Celine Anderson, a second-year Journalism major, will probably be staying at her apartment in Global Village for the break for that reason alone. She said her family, which lives in Far Rockaway, just outside of Queens, NY, still has no power.

According to Anderson, they decided not to heed the mandatory evacuation because the last one, during Hurricane Irene, proved to be unnecessary.

 “We left (for the evacuation) and Irene was, like, a joke. We had to go really far in Jamaica, Queens for the evacuation and it ended up being nothing,” she said.

Additionally, many burglaries take place during mandatory evacuations, giving her family another reason to stay home.

“My best friend (Genneve Torres) is in Brooklyn for the evacuation. She said, ‘In the morning people were pretending to be FEMA and LIPA’ (two services that give emergency help during crises) and then would rob you,” Anderson said “If you aren’t home, people will break into your houses and steal your stuff.”

However, Rockaway is completely destroyed. Anderson was lucky in the fact that her apartment is on the 10th floor. She didn’t experience flooding or wind damage, but her family still has no power and often is without water. Choosing to stay here for the break was a joint decision, she said.

“My mom thought, what kind of break would it be if I came back to a house without power and water when I can stay in a fully-functioning apartment. I know she wants me home, but right now it’s just not fit for me to,” she said. She knows for sure even if the damage persists she will be home for Christmas.

“I’m already missing Thanksgiving,” She said. “Even if there is no power, I would want to spend (Christmas) with them.”

Courtney Ullger, a second-year Psychology major, chose to risk it anyway and is going home for Thanksgiving. She lives in Lake Grove, NY, a village in Long Island, and says that damage was extensive. Her father’s home in Massapequa was destroyed completely. She said he lives on the South Oyster Bay, about a half hour’s drive from Queens and just on the Atlantic Ocean. His pool was found in his neighbor’s yard and all that he has is the clothes he was wearing when the storm hit. 

“I cannot imagine how my dad feels, especially not having anything left. The least I could do is be here for him,” she said. Ullger will be staying with her mom but intends to visit her dad often.

Many students are wrestling with this same decision. They would be missing a huge holiday, one that is typically spent with family to instead stay on a campus that is usually, on breaks, a “ghost campus,” said Jeremiah Camacho, a Game Design major, who will also be spending his break here, although not due to Sandy damage.

Luckily for them, most students do not have to worry about housing while making this decision. All housing units (both residence halls and apartments) remain open during the upcoming break, according to an emailed statement from RIT Housing Operations However, the university is closed Nov 22nd and 23rd. Students will not be able to visit on-campus dining areas, or use the colleges.

If damage lasts until our Christmas break, students living in apartments can remain in their housing, said Housing Operations, but students living in residence halls must move into the RIT Inn for the length of the break.

“I changed my flight to five days earlier than planned, and missed work this week because I wanted to be with my family,” said Ullger. She knows she can’t do much by way of physical help, but intends to be an emotional beam of support for her family.