In this Oct. 31, 2012, file photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, along the central Jersey Shore, N.J.
She remembers the night well.
“Once they began reporting that the center of the storm would hit my town, we knew that it would not just be a fluke like Hurricane Irene had been in ,” says Victoria Schliep, a sophomore at Boston College studying political science.
She spent the night sitting in her room in front of a TV with the Weather Channel on while working on classwork as Hurricane Sandy surged up the coastline late last year.
This week marks 100 days since the storm overturned beaches, uplifted houses and ransacked towns across the Northeast coast. Though time has passed, sometimes it’s still hard for her to log onto Facebook, call home or even text friends now that she’s back at school, a world removed from the devastation left in Hurricane Sandy’s path.
“Those phone calls and pictures bring it all back to the forefront of my mind,” Schliep says, and even after initially returning to the damage after the storm — an 8-foot crack in the house’s foundation, a garage that floated away — she’s still having difficulty in school.
Schools who were badly hit by the storm are still reaching out to their communities three months later where there are persistent needs where it comes to rebuilding and repairing the damage.
City University of New York (CUNY), the largest city university in the country, has 11 senior colleges and seven community colleges scattered throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Its student body comprises 540,000 with more than 6,000 full-time faculty members, many of whom also were either displaced or burdened by the storm. The university had 68,000 students living in low-lying areas when the storm hit.
“This storm really had a significant impact across CUNY,” says Frank Sanchez, vice chancellor for student affairs at CUNY. “What we continue to deal with is many students that” lost their jobs, houses, vehicles or were helping friends and family who are worse off than they were.
For students like Mike O’Brien who went into the end of last semester weighed down by restoration and clean-up efforts, going back is still a day-to-day struggle.
“We’ve just been recovering on our own as a family and community,” O’Brien says.
O’Brien, who’s finishing up an associate’s degree in mathematics at Atlantic Cape Community College, worked 40-hour weeks over the winter break clearing beaches in his hometown of Brigantine, N.J., for FEMA. Under FEMA’s advisement, he went back to classes instead of continuing to work for them.
Schliep, the sophomore at Boston College, though happy to be distracted by academics this semester, acknowledges the hard times ahead for everyone who lived through the storm.
“My family finally returned to our house this past week, which is awesome and very relieving,” she says. “But it still hurts to know that so many of my friends and the people I grew up with will not be able to do the same for quite some time, if ever.”
Powered by Facebook Comments