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November 02, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 8

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Students reflect on hurricane's impact

Courtesy of Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, U.S. Airforce
MOVING ON - Arial view of Sea Side Heights, N.J. Boardwalk's Casino Pier after Hurricane Sandy took its toll on the shoreline.
Courtesy of Jillian Gutleber
A picture of Casino Pier last winter before it collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean.
"Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us/ Those pier lights, our carnival life on the water/ Runnin', laughin' underneath the boardwalk with the boss's daughter/ I remember, Sandy girl." When Bruce Springsteen wrote that song for his 1973 album "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle," he would have no idea that almost 40 years later Sandy girl would not just be a memory of summertime love.

One out of four students at Susquehanna reside in New Jersey and approximately a quarter of Susquehanna student reside in areas that were affected by Sandy. The range of damage across the east coast varies from complete devastation to a few fallen branches, but the impact that this hurricane has left on the idea of home cannot be ignored.

The incalculable damage that has accrued along the east coast has left many students at Susquehanna yearning to be with their families and friends but stuck here. Facebook statuses and Tweets by students are sending thoughts and prayers to their families and friends, and conversations around campus have all been expressing concern.

Senior Resident Assistant in Reed Hall Robert PeƱaherrera lives in Toms River, N.J. and was very lucky that his neighborhood escaped the devastating flooding that occurred 10 minutes from his house. Trees in his neighborhood are uprooted throughout his neighborhood but no major damage has happened to his home. The story of uprooted trees and power loss is echoed through the state of New Jersey, especially those living west and north of the shore region. Kaitlin McGuire, a junior from Sparta, N.J., said that most of the trees around her house are down and she is unsure of the damage sustained to her shore house in Sea Side Park but is happy her family is safe, even though they are without power.

The New York Daily news has reported that Sandy's death toll has been moved up to 74 in the U.S. and peaked at 8.5 million power outages across the east coast. The cost of the storm is still being calculated and President Barak Obama visited the towns most affected by the hurricane on Tuesday.

Jillian Gutleber, a junior graphic design major from Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., almost lost everything. An old oak tree fell away from her house and ruined her father's sailboats and her home narrowly missed being flooded. The rest of the town was not as lucky. All of the major waterways flooded over and bled into each other, which created all of the major flooding in the area. "The water just took it all away like it was nothing," Gutleber said.

Gutleber's house may still be standing but her town is destroyed. "I almost feel guilty that I still have a house," Gutleber said. "It's all the memories and the places you live. I just want to go back and help, but I can't."

PeƱaherrera echoed her feelings, saying, "My childhood was swept away." The towns along the New Jersey shore rely on summers and the businesses along with the houses and sand dunes are all gone Gutleber said. "Thing will still be there but it won't be the same. I don't know what summer will be like," Gutleber said.

Kerry Hyland, a freshman from West Caldwell, said the Jersey shore is her second home. Her home in northern New Jersey escaped Sandy's falling trees and 70 mile per hour winds, but her beloved vacation spot at Lavalette is in shambles. Alumnus Brian Wilkie '10 has lived on Long Beach Island his whole life and has never seen something like this. "In 1962 there was a Nor'easter that devastated an island off of LBI, called Tucker Island. This is comparable," Wilkie said. Tucker Island shows up on Google maps in the bay off of LBI's southern coast.

Anna Beth Payne, the associate dean of student life and director of the counseling center, has noticed the support in the community. "Most students know that the fact that they are worried about this storm is not a psychological emergency," Payne said. That is probably why students have not been lining up outside of the counseling center looking for someone to talk to. Payne and some other workers stepped out of their offices today just to strike up conversations with students around campus just too see how everything is going.

Senior Veronica Horvath, from Caldwell, N.J., commented on how her town has experienced a lot of power outages along with moderate to severe damage. "My mom's legal office collapsed and was on fire and we just got power back at my house around 4 the afternoon," Horvath said. She also mentioned her boyfriend, an alumnus from the class of 2010, has been working 24 hours straight as a medic in New York, primarily in Coney Island. "I want to help but what can I do," Horvath said.

The checking in and conversations of concern going around are really a positive thing, according to Payne, and it shows signs of good mental health and resilience. She also noted that most people who seem to be resilient in these situations make good use of their social connections. "Don't assume that that stuff isn't important because it is. Imagine if we lived in a place that didn't have people checking in or being concerned," Payne said.

The counseling center is not the only place on campus prepared for Sandy's aftermath. Residence Life also prepared for the storm and whatever repercussions that would bring. Jose Sanchez, assistant director of residence life for community development, said that he prepared his residence life staff by keeping channels of communication open and giving them a plan for worst-case scenarios. Since the brunt of the storm has passed Sanchez and his staff are just following up with residents and making sure they are okay.
"We have been encouraging students to talk to the counseling services because they are prepared to help students in situations like this," Sanchez said.
The effects of Sandy are still to be tallied and assessed but campus personal and students are building a support network that creates positivity and compassion. If you are interested in making an appointment with the counseling center all you need to do is call (570) 372- 4751 or you can call the emergency on call number (570) 374-9164 and ask for the on-call counselor. Payne said, "There is an impulse to be kind right now, and this is a good time to express it."


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