Sandy Aftermath Relief Efforts

Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the tri-state area, New Yorkers and New Jerseyians are still trying to grasp the damage that surrounds their hometowns and most cherished beaches.

Ramapo College was described by many as being a "bubble" of safety, where students were spared the discomfort, sadness and tragedy that enveloped the rest of the state, nearby Mahwah and its surrounding communities, including Ramsey, Franklin Lakes, and Wyckoff. Power was restored to most areas in Bergen County and its neighboring counties by some time during the middle of last week, or last weekend at the latest.

Ramapo students, faculty and community have responded to the devastation with overwhelming support. The Bradley Center was opened to Mahwah residents as a place where they were able to warm up, charge their phones and other electronics and snack on any food that Ramapo students brought for them to eat. Manager of Bradley Center Facilities P.J. Bartolotto said that Public Safety was responsible for setting up the Warming Center for the public and monitored the center during open hours.

"As a Trustee, I was very pleased with College security and the Bradley Center staff who made all those that attended feel welcome," said William Dator, director of the Board of Trustees, on Ramapo's response to the local community's needs after the hurricane. "The students also went out of their way to offer assistance."  
Students have been further involved in relief efforts by hosting events and drives on campus.

Four sororities held a variety show themed event on Thursday night, "Rebuilding the Jersey Shore: One Act at a Time," where students paid $5 each and all proceeds went towards organizations that are helping rebuild Jersey shore neighborhoods affected most by the hurricane.

Sorority Tri Sigma and fraternity Kappa Sigma teamed up to collect food and clothing donations to be immediately donated to shelters in need of supplies, and Kappa Sigma also began selling $10 "Rebuild the Jersey Shore" T-shirts in the Student Center on Monday morning. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales will also go towards immediate monetary needs of communities hit hardest by Sandy.

Other on-campus organizations including the Center for Student Involvement have organized weekend trips to Little Ferry, N.J. clearing basements and debris, in addition to general cleaning of flood-damaged homes, in conjunction with St. Margaret's Church of Little Ferry.

Civic and Community Service Center Coordinator Kerry Duda, a junior, and Kyle Mack, a junior, have actively begun planning "word-of-mouth" trips for the future in Little Ferry, and Duda said that the CCEC is working diligently to provide more trips with Habitat for Humanity chapters from other New Jersey counties and colleges.

Matthew Kobza, a member of the Student Government Association and a junior, also noted SGA's boardwalk-themed late night in the Birch Tree Inn last night.

"We're working with Sodexo for the event, which also happens to be [on] Founder's Day. Students can come to donate food, money, and clothing," Kobza said.

SGA's Restore the Shore late night earned more than $150 and collected a lot of non-perishable foods.

There has also been a green bucket placed outside of the SGA office, where students are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food and clothing items, which will be collected periodically and sent to organizations that desperately need the items.

Kobza said that SGA is planning future fundraisers and events that will focus on hurricane relief as well. On Saturday, Dec. 1, the SGA will also be hosting a trip to the Community Food Bank of N.J. in Hillside, where students will sort food that will be going directly to people and shelters that were affected by the hurricane.
Resident students may have also noticed an influx of commuter students on campus.

Anna Farneski, College spokesperson, commented on the Office of Residence Life's choice to open Linden Hall for commuters that lost power.

"Working with the Commuter Caucus, requests were filled on a first-come, first-served basis and in the end, all but three beds were filled. Approximately 61 students accepted the offer, and we were happy to help them stay on campus and in class," Farneski said.

Because the gas rationing in Bergen County officially ended Tuesday, the students will move out by this Sunday.

As many student Facebook statuses indicated after the Warming Center opened following the hurricane, Ramapo College "takes care of its own."

Editor's Note (11/30/12): This article has been edited to reflect the correct date of the SGA trip to the Community Food Back of NJ. It is Dec. 1, not Nov. 17.