Students Reflect on Superstorm Sandy One Year Later

Tuesday was a somber reminder for many Ramapo students of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, described by many as the "Frankenstorm" of 2012.

Time Magazine reported numbers this month emphasizing the disaster that Sandy caused one year ago. According to Time Magazine, $25 million of business activity was lost and 8.1 million homes were without power, affecting people in 17 states as far away as Michigan.

In addition, Time Magazine released numbers concerning social media posts. Ten photos per second were uploaded on Instagram on Oct. 29, over 20 million tweets about Sandy were posted from Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, and gas was rationed for 11 days across New Jersey.  

The Mahwah community did not feel devastation the way that many other areas in the rest of New Jersey and New York did. Mahwah Patch reported that the majority of damage to Mahwah and the surrounding areas including Wyckoff, Ramsey, Franklin Lakes and Suffern was downed trees and wires as a result of 50 mph to 60 mph winds.

During the storm, Ramapo served as a safe haven for students that stayed on campus, and the Bradley Center was opened for Mahwah and the surrounding community as a warming center, where many Ramapo students brought food and donations for residents. Ramapo also offered limited housing in residence halls after Sandy to commuters that were still without electricity or dealing with heavy traffic.

As the one year anniversary of Sandy approached, many Ramapo students reflected back on the past year and how far New Jersey has come since the storm.

Senior Rachael O'Brien from Seaside Park, NJ described Sandy as a surreal experience for her and the rest of her neighborhood.

"It was really emotional but the worst part was that I was up here during the storm and my mom was at home," O'Brien said.

O'Brien explained that communication with her family during the storm was spotty, which made her anxious.  

"I felt guilty for not being able to do anything. When I did go home, I brought a ton of stuff that I had people donate," O'Brien said.

Senior Christine DeFranco had a challenging experience as a commuter. She said that getting gas and groceries was trying, and driving anywhere became difficult.

"I was eleven days without power," said DeFranco. "It was really cold, and I really couldn't go anywhere because work was closed for a few week and classes were cancelled too."

Senior Kari Lefebvre grew up down the shore and worked as a lifeguard for years. She said that she understood the power of the ocean firsthand.

"For me Sandy had a mental affect," Lefebvre said. "I grew up on the barrier island in Chadwick Beach and I lifeguard on the ocean in Lavallette so it was heart-wrenching to see how all of these places that held so many memories were washed away into the Atlantic in a single night."

Senior Joe Pomarico reflected back on his family's summer home in Ortley Beach. Completely destroyed by the storm, he explained that everything in the house was irreparable from the beams, to the roof and electrical system.

"We were forced to knock down the house that we've had for almost 30 years, where I made my childhood memories," said Pomarico. "Thankfully, it was only a summer house, so many people affected by Sandy were forced from their only home."

Many students, fraternities, sororities and clubs on campus volunteered their time collecting donations, raising money and rebuilding houses down the shore and in Bergen County towns including Moonachie and Little Ferry throughout the rest of the year.

The Civic and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) offered three trips throughout the month of October to rebuild houses in Staten Island and Moonachie. In addition, the CCEC recently added a new trip to Staten Island to their 2014 Alternative Break program.

The state of New Jersey launched the "Restore the Shore" campaign and made a grassroots effort to rebuild and bring a sense of community to the state. offers residents information about rebuilding efforts, news, events and how to donate. It also lists which Jersey shore businesses have reopened since the storm.

"It shows that New Jersey is a giving community and we can help our neighbors out in a time of need," said O'Brien.

O'Brien explained that while the "Restore the Shore" campaign was effective in creating a sense of community and volunteerism among the state, there are still many areas that need rebuilding.

"It is a matter of campaigning and marketing. We're also forgetting about some of the other towns in western and northern New Jersey, Staten Island and Brooklyn," O'Brien said.

Governor Christie has received praise from residents and politicians around the state for giving hope and support to the communities affected by Sandy, but red tape still exists for many homeowners and business owners that have been prevented from rebuilding.

While most businesses affected by the storm across the state have been rebuilt, students agree that there is still progress to be made.

"Over the course of the year I didn't see as much rebuilding as I thought I would have. If you go down to the shore you can still see a lot of the destruction," Pomarico said.

Lefebvre believes that the state and the government has had a good handle on the aftermath of the storm, but believes more progress can still be made.

"The state did a good job in terms of having beaches and businesses open for the summer 2013 season but there are still people who do not have homes," Lefebvre said. "It is hard to gauge what is going to happen because the damage is so widespread."