Superstorm Sandy

Moore Library is a blurred sight on the afternoon of Oct. 29 as Hurricane Sandy makes a direct hit on New Jersey. The university went into emergency mode and canceled classes at least until Monday, Nov. 5.

This story was clarified on Nov. 3, 2012. For details, see the editors’ note at the end of the story.

By Katie Zeck

As the state struggles to recover from the historic devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Rider also is taking the necessary steps to resume a normal schedule.

All classes are scheduled to restart and offices will reopen on Nov. 5, according to the latest update from the administration.

“As of right now we are very optimistic that classes will resume on Monday,” Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said. “[The administration] will meet at 10 a.m. on [Nov. 4] to see how things are progressing.”

Campbell said that when deciding to cancel classes through Nov. 4, the administration took into consideration the status of the roadways for those commuting and returning to campus.

“We did not want anyone to be put at risk when traveling,” Campbell said. “We also wanted to allow members of Rider’s community to work with their families to make any repairs to their homes and communities.”

HAPPENING NOW

Though the Lawrenceville campus did not lose power except for a brief blackout on Oct. 29, Westminster Choir College (WCC) lost power at 6:30 p.m. that evening. It remained without power in the following days, receiving limited service from emergency generators.

Junior music education major Andrew Cox said that aside from a few downed trees, conditions at WCC aren’t that bad.

“Life hasn’t changed too much,” he said. “I’m actually doing projects that are due in three weeks so I can get ahead.”

About 70 students stayed on the Westminster campus during the storm. Once the power went out, students were given the option to relocate to the Lawrenceville campus until electricity was fully restored. In addition, the shuttle has been in service for students who wish to come to the Lawrenceville campus to attend many of the activities hosted by Campus Life. These activities include bingo, Halloween crafts, movie showings, dodgeball tournaments and a dance party.

Director of Public Safety Vickie Weaver visited WCC on Nov. 1 and said that the students seemed to be in good spirits.

“They have emergency generators running to heat and provide lighting to the buildings,” she said. “I can’t speak highly enough of how responsible and caring the students, staff and employees on both campuses have been.”

Residents of WCC clarified that there was heat in the hallways and lounges, but none in the students’ rooms. The rooms remained cold even with the doors open in hopes of bringing in the heat. Many students chose to sleep in the lounges because of the lack of heat in the dorm rooms.

She lauded the tireless work of Facilities, Public Safety, Aramark, Unicco, the administration and Residence Life.

“Their work illustrates the strength of our community,” she said. “Even our students have been helping to move debris from walkways.”

Campbell said that faculty members on both campuses will work to make up the classes in the time frame of the normal academic schedule.

Facilities management got right to work removing debris from walkways and roadways on the Lawrenceville campus.

“Adjustments to syllabi will need to be made, but currently there are no plans for additional time to the academic calendar,” he said.

As of Nov. 1, Daly’s is back to regular hours and is no longer serving food to-go. However, Cranberry’s, Subway and Andrew J’s remain closed, according to Brian Denver, an Aramark manager.

Campbell said that performances of The Crucible have been rescheduled to take place from Nov. 7-11.

“Everyone in Campus Life has done a fabulous job of making sure the students that are on campus have fun things to do,” he said. “Residence Life has done a phenomenal job, Aramark has done great making sure everyone had food during the storm, even allowing students to take food back to their dorms so they wouldn’t have to leave to come back for food. Facilities has also done a great job of getting everything cleared up.”

WHEN SANDY WAS HERE

Starting on Oct. 27, the university began taking the necessary steps to prepare the campus for Sandy’s impending force.

“We ask that all resident students who can return home to please do so in advance of the storm’s arrival,” said an email send to the entire Rider community on Oct. 27. “We recognize that not all students can return home; therefore residences and dining halls will remain open on both campuses. We have appropriate staffing coverage on both campuses and will provide essential services during the storm for students who cannot return home.”

In total, 718 Lawrenceville students (out of more than 2,300 resident students) and 71 Westminster students (out of about 350) remained on campus as of Oct. 29, according to Campbell.

Most who stayed were international students, students who live out of state, or students from the shore area — Sandy’s main target.

Junior behavioral neuroscience and psychology double major Jad Nasrini, an international student, has been attending the university for two and a half years now but has never experienced such a terrible natural disaster.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” Nasrini said. “I thought that the two-day break would give me a chance to go do work in the lab.”

Resident Advisors (RAs) regularly checked on students who stayed. According to Kevin Tallaksen, an RA in Gee Hall, his duties included making sure residents had enough food and water, moving items away from windows, closing windows and blinds and making students aware that Rider is a dry campus until Nov. 4, meaning alcohol cannot be consumed even if the student is over 21.

Rider alumnus Mike Mack of Union Beach, N.J., was one of the individuals whose home saw the effects of Sandy’s wrath.

“Our little town was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “At least 20 homes were completely destroyed, and almost every home was damaged in some way. My family lost two cars and we had about two feet of water in the first floor of our home.

“And we were some of the lucky ones. Dozens of people are left without food, water, and a place to sleep. It was truly a horrifying experience, but we are thankful that we have made it through and confident that we can rebuild our town.”

Lawrence Township alerted its community members of Sandy’s damage.

“The mayor’s proclamation for a state of emergency in Lawrence Township remains in full effect,” said an automated voice message sent out on Oct. 30. “Seventy-five percent of Lawrence Township is without power and multiple roads are closed due to downed trees and power lines. Residents are urged to remain off of the roads today.”

Lawrence residents without power were permitted to use the locker room showers at Lawrence High School, and the cafeteria at Lawrence High School was opened to residents to access WiFi and charge electronic devices.

Additional reporting by Chrissy Cody, Joe Petrizzo and April Lanzet.

This story has been clarified to show that the heat in the WCC dorms was only in the hallways and lounges.

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