Hurricane Sandy hits; Kean University strikes back

By Alexandria Addesso

From a brief loss of power or cable TV to losing everything, Hurricane Sandy affected every member of the Kean University community.

Roofing thrown off of Watchung Hills Regional High School.
Photo Credit: Eric Haftel

“I felt like I was going insane without power,” said Mathew Siegel, a business sophomore.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Monday Oct. 29 and began affecting the lives of Kean students and faculty before it even hit. “I lost power before the storm ever really started and it stayed off for five days,” said Junior Julianne Wildrick, an early education major.

The story of no power was a common theme among students. Some lost power for just a few hours, while others are still without power.

“We aren’t getting any information on what’s happening with our town. I haven’t heard anything about when we are supposed to get power back or have hot water again,” said Christine McDonald, a communication studies senior. “Maybe I’ll get power back next semester.”

Although living without basic amenities can be difficult, some had far worse issues to deal with. The areas hit hardest were the Jersey Shore and Long Island, which are regions where some members of the Kean community reside (see story on page 4).

“It destroyed my home,” said Kelli Higgins, a sophomore athletic training major that lives in Barnegat, NJ. “I’m going to miss how the beach used to be and how big the dunes were because now there is nothing. I’m also going to miss the places I used to go to that are gone or have damage. ”

Aside from many problems that emerged directly from the storm, gas rations began in New Jersey and New York City on Nov. 3 and 9 respectively, in order to combat the long lines at gas stations that led to many confrontations among motorists.

“Everyone was going crazy, to the point where fights were breaking out everywhere,” said Joanne Segreto, an education major. “Food stores, gas stations and all those places were out of control. I had no idea what to do.”

A tree fell on a house in Green Brook.
Photo Credit: Eric Haftel

Not only were people’s gas tanks running on empty, but so were their stomachs. The New York Times coined a new phrase the “Sandy Five.” Like the term many college students are familiar with, the “Freshmen Fifteen,” which insinuates a gain of 15 pounds when entering college, the “Sandy Five” refers to the five pounds gained by those who lost power during the storm and had to either eat out or only eat non-perishables because their refrigerators were vacant.

Kean University’s physical campuses were also affected by Sandy. School was cancelled for eight days due to power outages. Resident students were evacuated from their rooms, but some were not able to leave the campus due to having nowhere to go. A hundred students, most of whom were foreign exchange students, remained in the residence halls and had to relocate to the hallways.

“At least I don’t need to worry about my safety in the storm,” said Tanning Hua, a senior management major and a resident student who stayed on campus during the storm.

Kean University also joined the relief efforts to help those affected by Sandy. From the first day classes resumed, hurricane relief donation boxes sprung up in various places through the University Center and cafeterias. There was also a table set up in front of the computer lab in the University Center where food and clothing donations could be made.

President Farahi and the official website released statements that explained ways people could help, emphasizing the need to give blood since many blood drives were missed during the storm.

Student Government also held its annual food bank luncheon in which all proceeds went to Sandy relief efforts. The all-you-can-eat luncheon cost only five dollars for students and 10 for faculty and was from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Cougar’s Den on Nov. 14. The luncheon had an ample turn-out as well as additional donations of money, food, clothing and toiletries.

“A lot of people donated,” said Gerard Smithwrick, one of the student organizers. “We had two live performers, a pianist and guitarist. It was a big turn-out of the whole Kean community.”

Although Sandy devastated the Kean community and the northeastern coast, it also brought people together to help with relief. President Barack Obama and Governor Chris Christie came together in a bipartisan effort to help the Jersey Shore, changing the views of politicians and many voters just before the election.

“I gained a liking for Christie,” said sophomore English major Graig Blount. “He was very personable for the first time since he was elected. I thought, ‘yeah that’s my governor!’”

Thomas Antonelle, Brigit Bauma, Liwei Chen, Eric Haftel, Ryan Gaydos, Mike Jago, Julie Knodt and Rick Salvatore contributed to this story.

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