Hurricane here? More like a little rain

Vivian Chen Liyi, Staff Writer

New York University Students were without power, water and food Oct. 29, according to international relations major freshman Reira Saito.

“We received the first email about the hurricane on Oct. 26,” said Saito. “It said something like prepare for enough cash, and fill the bathtub with water.”

When the storm hit at 8 or 9 p.m., Oct. 29, Saito said she was watching a movie.

“All of the sudden, the Wi-Fi was disconnected. The power went out, too,” said Saito. “The next morning we still didn’t have water, electricity or Wi-Fi.”

She also said everything worked again later that day in some residential halls.

The night when New York University experienced a power outage, the last bread and bottled water were gone from Richland Walmart shelves.

Jessica Makins, Richland Walmart sales associate, said lots of people purchased water, milk and bread Oct. 28 and 29.

“Everybody came in and buy a lot of water, bread, milk and paper products,”said Makins.

“Now there is (milk and bread), they (customers) are not buying it now. It was two days before, Sunday and Monday, and we were out of it. We got the bread and milk in yesterday (Oct. 30) morning,” said Makins.

Candles and generators sold more than usual as the storm approached.

Mary Lynn Little, Johnstown Galleria Mall Yankee Candle sales assistant, said more people bought candles starting from Oct. 29.

Craig King, Johnstown Galleria Mall Sears tool sales associate, said 30 generators were sold in 18 hours.

“On Saturday (Oct. 27) night, we were told we would be getting in 30 generators that would be picked up from Morgantown, W.Va.

“We sent out trucks to pick them up. We drove the truck down to Morgantown. We picked up 40 generators; 10 were dropped off in Uniontown, and the other 30 were brought back here.

“We sold out those generators between Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon,” said King. “We sold all 30 of them. We had 50 calls on Monday, and we didn’t have enough.”

He also said the generators were out of stock.

“I don’t think we are going to get a storm like Sandy anytime soon. By Monday, we will know what is coming.”

He also said he had a generator at home.

“I have one, too, and it is at home, in the box. It is ready when the power goes out.”

At 10:54 a.m., Oct. 29., students received emails saying campus would be  closed from 3 p.m. that day and remain closed Oct. 30.

Robert Knipple, UPJ Institutional and Community Relations associate vice president, said the university made the decision based on professional information.

“The members of the Critical Incident Response Team met and monitored the projected path of the storm very closely, checking regularly with the Cambria County Department of Emergency Services and the local power company.

“We also monitored several weather services and regularly checked updates issued by the governor. We assessed the threat to campus and acted in the best interest of the safety and well-being of the campus community.”

He said the assessment showed a strong likelihood of widespread damage across campus, as well as a strong possibility of an extended period without power.

He said there could have been serious risk to those students and employees who would be driving to campus.

“The prediction (made Monday morning) was the storm will hit here around 6 o’clock,” said Knipple.

“We didn’t want to get people out on the road right at the time the storm was supposed to hit. We closed at 3 to get all the commuters, faculty and staff home safely.

“Also, if some resident students; maybe from Pittsburgh, wanted to get home, they could make it home before the storm hit,” said Knipple.

He also said the university had generators on campus to maintain campus operation. However, in case of power outage, an hour is needed to transfer the power from electricity to generators.

“The Living-Learning Center had been designated as an evacuation center, as it can be switched to auxiliary power in the event of loss of electricity, and can maintain normal operations.

“As part of our response plan, we increased the supply of bottled water in order to ensure that we would have enough potable water for each resident student for three days should the public water supply become contaminated.

“Students would have been provided with warm shelter, food and water,” said Knipple.

He also said there would be enough power to maintain emergency lighting in other residential halls.

“People can safely get out of those buildings, but there’s no generators to maintain every building on campus,” said Knipple.

“So all the students can be accommodated in a short term, if this hits here as they planned. If we would not have electricity for days, we will probably look for a longer-term closure.”

He also said the surrounding community was affected by flooding and power outages.

“We were very fortunate that the campus received minimal impact from the storm, aside from some broken tree limbs. Several neighboring communities, however, experienced flooding, power outages and road closures.”

He said all schools in the surrounding areas also had closed due to the storm.

“All of the other colleges and universities in our region, Penn Highlands, Mount Aloysius, Saint Francis, and Penn State Altoona, took similar action.

“We also talked to Cliff Maloney, the Student Government president about the decision, and he agreed. So, we had input from faculty and students regarding that decision.”

Gregory Faiers, UPJ geography associate professor, said the reason why the hurricane did not affect this area was because UPJ is far from the coast.

“It is not unusual to have hurricanes in October and early November. They just usually don’t impact the U.S. coast, and this one took an unusual path, as the usual track to the Northeast was blocked.

“As for us not getting hurricanes, we are simply too far from the coast. They weaken quickly as they come ashore due to surface friction, distance from warm water (their energy source) and unfavorable winds aloft.

“Also, most hurricanes coming up the East Coast move to the northeast or north at worst,” said Faiers. “It is quite rare to see them come ashore moving due west.

“We do often get rain and some winds from remnants of hurricanes, especially ones that make landfall along the Gulf Coast,” said Faiers.

Rebecca Kaduke, a secondary English education senior, said the hurricane didn’t affect her much.

“I talked to my mom, though. She said make sure to have a flashlight, and be prepared with food. I just made sure I had my batteries and flashlight, and I went to the Tuck Shop just to grab some chips.”

Kaduke said she had prepared flashlight and electric candles in case lights went off.

She also said she liked the university closure policy.

“I thought that (campus closed from 3 p.m. Oct. 29 to Oct. 30) was nice, because we don’t know what is going to be like, and them sending out the email is nice.”