Sandy Sweeps through Campus

Hurricane Sandy, described by many as ," hit the Mahwah area at approximately 6 p.m. Monday. It quickly became the biggest topic of discussion in the Northeast, receiving millions of tweets and Facebook posts referencing #HurricaneSandy.

Students had already begun preparing for the storm when Ramapo's Alert-Me-Now texts, calls and emails went out Sunday morning, notifying students that classes were canceled and offices were closed on Monday.

Some students, fearful of the Category 1 hurricane, decided to leave campus and go home. Others decided to ride out the storm on campus and went to local grocery stores to stock up non-perishable food, toilet paper and bottled water prior to the hurricane.

When Monday arrived, there was scattered rain and plenty of wind, but the most severe weather began around 6 p.m. and continued into early Tuesday morning. Students recalled the high winds and swaying trees.

"It sounded like a freight train…really frightening," senior Katie Attinello said.

During the worst of the storm, Linden, Pine, Laurel, Overlook and the College Park Apartments lost power for a few hours. Bischoff, Mackin and the Village Apartments had no power outages.

While most of the Ramapo campus stayed intact, "The Mahwah Patch" reported that the majority of damage to Mahwah and the surrounding area was downed trees and wires as a result of the wind. Most of the town lost power and remains without it.

"There are countless trees that have fallen onto trees. We are fortunate the expected rains did not occur and there was no flooding in the Township," Mayor Laforet said in a statement he issued about Mahwah's conditions at 11:40 a.m. on Tuesday.

Unlike Hurricane Irene of August 2011, the Ramapo River only rose 5.49 feet after Sandy, in comparison to the 15.78 feet it rose after Irene. This means that flooding has not been a major issue for Mahwah and the surrounding towns, which has also made aiding residents easier and kept many more roads open and mostly free of traffic.

Many Ramapo students also reported seeing green flashes of light in the sky on Monday, which can be attributed to some exploded transformers in Mahwah.

While most of Mahwah has no power as of Wednesday night, some Route 17 businesses were still open for long lines of customers by Tuesday afternoon, including McDonald's, Burger King, State Line Diner and the A&P.  

During the storm, students were encouraged by Residence Life staff to stay indoors, away from windows and with the blinds down.

Junior Jessica Waldron said she stayed in with her roommates Monday night during the height of the storm, playing cards, making food and bonding. Waldron said that she expected the hurricane to be worse and feels lucky she was at Ramapo while it wreaked havoc throughout the Northeast.

"I felt bad because my family lives down the Shore, so they saw the worst of it," Waldron said, adding that she worries about the reconstruction of the beach.

Other students had similar experiences in their residence halls during the hurricane.

"My roommates and I watched Halloween movies, tried to do some homework and then got sort of unmotivated because of the weather," Attinello said.  

Attinello said she looked outside during one point during the hurricane and saw a piece of siding rip from an apartment in an adjacent Village quad.

"The piece of siding that's left looks like a flag hanging on the building now," Attinello said.

Attinello also said that Ramapo felt like a bubble for her and her roommates. She said that her apartment has been a refuge for two commuters and one alum, all of whom have lost power at home.

"We were really spared here," Attinello said. "Maybe it's because we're in the mountains."

Another student, junior Melissa Oppel, said that she was also really lucky to be at Ramapo during the hurricane.

"My house is right by the water. All of my family got evacuated," Oppel said. "I wish I could have brought them all here."

She also played card games with roommates throughout the day and when the power went out in Laurel. Oppel said that students sticking together on campus was important.

"It was good for everyone to support each other during something like this," Oppel said.

She said that she felt Residence Life was well prepared for the hurricane and that Dining Services made sure everyone was getting enough to eat, offering students bagged lunches. She also said that she thinks that Ramapo did the right thing to cancel classes.

"A lot of commuters and professors wouldn't be able to come in, and everyone is so distracted by all of the destruction right now," Oppel said.

She and many other students feel that Ramapo handled Sandy with proper precautions and efficiency.

Jennifer Alfonso, a junior and resident assistant in Bischoff Hall, says that she felt really prepared to handle the hurricane.

"We [the resident assistants] were really equipped to handle Sandy," Alfonso said. "We posted signs all over the building and we were adamant about letting residents know what they could and couldn't do."

Alfonso said that they were even prepared to evacuate the residence halls into the Pavilion and student center if necessary, which is why resident assistants gathered a headcount of all the students who remained on campus. Alfonso said she also agrees with other students that think Ramapo did the right thing in canceling classes.

"Half of the campus wouldn't be here, and we have so many fallen trees that still need to be cleaned up, we don't want to put students in danger," Alfonso said.

Like many other students at Ramapo, Alfonso's hometown, Weehawken, faces 5 feet of floodwater in some areas, and her home is without power.

"I feel Ramapo is one of the safest places to be right now," Alfonso said.