Nothing made for a scarier Halloween than the natural disaster that unleashed itself upon the east coast. Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane, reached headlines across the nation and cancelled several schools from Virginia to New York, including familiar, closer names like James Madison, Hollins, and the University of Virginia. While Roanoke College was among the few academic institutions to remain in session throughout the course of the storm, that certainly did not exclude the campus from the onslaught of rain and wind.
Although Sandy made landfall along the coast of Delaware and New Jersey, with the majority of damage from the surf flooding New York, the edge of the hurricane brought gusty winds of at least 45 mph across campus. Therein, Tom Turner, the Director of Campus Safety, sent out his warnings via e-mail, periodically reminding students and faculty to remain safe as we travelled to and from classes. He also made sure to inform campus residents to keep a blanket and flashlight handy as well as one’s cell phone and/or laptop fully charged in the event of a power outage.
Surprisingly, loss of power only managed to affect the Fintel Library, Olin Hall, and at least 3 residence halls at one time, with occasional surges at other times, but Roanoke College never lost power completely for more than a minute. Nevertheless, a lot of wind meant a lot of clean up around the campus, especially from fallen branches and many, many leaves piling up along the stairwells and brick walkways and even blown inside the buildings themselves.
The three-day surge of rain probably wouldn’t have been as bad, even by hurricane standards, had it not also been for the unusual cold front intercepting Sandy’s path at such a critical moment. Meteorologists later determined the luck of the situation, because the tropical air brought in from the Atlantic colliding with the cold front could have resulted in very strong cells with possible tornadoes had the hurricane made landfall in a southernmost state. In short, Hurricane Sandy could have been a lot worse.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the United States was as equally as lucky as the Roanoke Valley. With New York receiving the worst of the Sandy’s wrath, homes and subways flooded, causing the underground infestation of rats to surface and drown. As a result, the usual disaster recovery involves monitoring a possible spread of disease and the President declared a State of Emergency for help in the efforts of rebuilding, sending in the National Guard. According to Lynsy Yoder, several families of students, faculty, and staff are among the large number affected by Hurricane Sandy spanning even farther than that of New York.
Lynsy Yoder is managing the “Super Storm Sandy Relief Team” at Roanoke College, and you can help in the relief as well. The college team “has arranged to donate goods to the Saint Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoboken, New Jersey” until November 19th. The current items on high demand that will be most appreciated are: gloves/hats/scarves, men’s clothing (jeans/coats/sweaters), socks, blankets, wash cloths, towels, soap, cups, coffee, sugar, and canned food, all of which will be accepted at the Chaplain’s Office.