SPU students react to East Coast storm

For junior Catherine Lagoa, the hardest part of Hurricane Sandy is sitting in Seattle while her friends and family in New York City weather the hardest-hitting East Coast storm in decades.

“New Yorkers are very tough; we don’t take things too seriously,” Lagoa said. “But this is pretty damn scary.”

With 90 mph winds, Hurricane Sandy has left at least dozens dead and millions across the East Coast without power. And as much of the Eastern Seaboard slowly emerges from the worst of the storm, SPU students try to keep in contact with friends and family caught in the hurricane’s path.

Lagoa said she was “born and raised” in Queens, with a pride in her voice that could only come from a native New Yorker.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said Lagoa, who is only months into her first year away from home as a transfer junior at SPU. “I’m already home sick and knowing that I can’t help or do anything—I just can’t explain.”

Lagoa’s mom works for the New York Police Department and is required to go into work. Her cousin works for the transit authority and is sleeping in his car between 18-hour shifts to repair the subway system’s crippled rail lines.

At one point, the rising water covered seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn and left 2 million in New York City without power.

A friend of Lagoa’s was killed when the hurricane pushed a tree into the house where he was taking shelter.

“I’m old enough to know these things are a part of life,” Lagoa said. “But it’s so sad to hear these stories when I’m so far away.”

SPU sophomore Ria Schultz rode an emotional rollercoaster as her parents and sibling rode out the wind, debris and fallen tree limbs caused by the hurricane in their home of Farmington, Conn.—just two hours from New York City.

“It’s hard to be on the other side of the nation and hear that your family is in grave danger,” Schultz said. “I’m glad they are safe, and I pray that recovery happens quickly.”

Senior Nate Strong, ASSP president, sat in his office chair Tuesday night checking the Delta Airlines website to make sure his 10:30 p.m. Wednesday flight to Washington D.C. was still scheduled to take off.

“It hasn’t been cancelled yet,” said Strong, as he punches in his flight number and squints at the computer monitor.

“Most of my friends in the D.C. area got hit a lot less hard than they thought,” said Strong, adding that New Jersey and New York sustained the heaviest damage.

Strong originally planned to stop over in New Jersey to visit friends, but changed his plans after he lost contact with them because of the power outage.

Freshman Selina Chart said she’s followed the storm because of her extended family in New York.

“I have not been able to contact [my family in New York],” Chart said.

“They travel a lot for soccer, and it’s nerve-wracking because I don’t know where they are.”

Chart said she was most impacted when she saw the sheer size of the hurricane as she looked at footage of the floods and weather maps of the storm that stretched from Maine to Ohio and encompassed New Jersey and New York.

The tenacity and resilience of New Yorkers will help them as they begin to rebound from the hurricane, said Lagoa, who recounted witnessing the 9-11 terrorist attacks and living the aftermath.

“We’ve been through these disasters before,” she said. “We stick together in hard times, and we’ll be fine.”

Assistant News Editor Allison Northrop and staff writers Alex Cnossen, Kendra Vann-Sjogren and Forest Brown contributed to the reporting for this story.

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Title: SPU students react to East Coast storm | Author: Cory Minderhout | Section: News | Published Date: 2012-10-31 | Internal ID: 8383

Cory Minderhout

News Editor Cory Minderhout is a senior journalism major.