Plano alumni affected by Sandy

Laura Jones, Staff Writer

She walks down the hallway and into the men’s restroom at Long Island University, where her classmates are gathered. They are all there for one thing. The outlets.

After Hurricane Sandy hit the Long Island campus, there was a huge power outage. In order to contact their family and friends, the students had to use whatever outlets they could find. Emma Barishman, who graduated in 2012, was trapped by the storm.

While they were inside, they were safe. But the hurricane was in full motion right outside the walls. They had advance warning and a group of theater majors moved into Riggs Hall.

“Many large trees were completely uprooted from the ground,” Barishman said. “Trees fell on power lines. Hurricanes aren’t like tornadoes; hurricanes hit gradually and are like a really serious wind and rain storm, the wind literally howled outside our window and we could see some of the biggest trees on campus bending in the wind.”

Peyton Kennedy, who also graduated in 2012, is now a student at NYU. She was on campus when the hurricane hit.

“I was in my dorm trying to finish up any work that required my computer or the Internet, because I knew the power was most likely going to go out,” Kennedy said. “I gave updates to my friends and family back home via Facebook, because the cell signal was really spotty. When I heard about NYU hospital, I was really worried. They have two backup generators and they both failed, so they completely lost power. They had to transport patients down flights of stairs in the dark and get them to other hospitals. No one got hurt though.”

However, even through the dark nights and damage, Kennedy said the hurricane helped bring students at NYU together to cope by sharing some humor.

“The university did a pretty good job of making sure everyone was safe during the storm, as well as after,” Kennedy said. “People that relocated to the student center got a visit from Alec Baldwin. Our university’s president threw a party in the library and had a comedy night featuring Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos. Everyone really came together and tried to stay positive throughout the whole thing.”

The theater community was one of the first groups to get back on campus at Long Island University. They all wanted to get back to practice and be together after the storm.

“Theater kids like nothing more than to be together,” Barishman said. “Even when the school didn’t have power, the cast of our upcoming show got together and rehearsed. Others got together and worked on both group and individual projects.”

Some teachers even held class for the students stuck on campus during the storm.

“Teachers came and ran class because they knew their students were going stir-crazy, stuck inside with no electricity,” Barishman said.

However, it was a different story for students who left campus after warning of the hurricane.

“Half of our students travel from 10 minutes to three hours every morning to get here,” Barishman said. “The storm caused major gas shortage which means that some students will not be able to return to school immediately. The school is working with them to ensure that they do not fall behind. But of course, nothing makes up for actually being in class.”

Some of the colleges that were further away from the coast were able to avoid the catastrophe completely. Kayla Bu, who graduated in 2012, is now a student at Dartmouth University

“I’m in New Hampshire and further away from the east coast. I wasn’t affected by Sandy as were some other states; it passed by here pretty quickly and the most we felt were some rains and 30 mph winds,” Bu said. “A huge tree fell right next to my dorm, so that was scary, but no one was hurt and we didn’t lose power or get any classes canceled. It was my first hurricane, so obviously I was pretty worried about food and power, but it passed so quickly that by Tuesday it was sunny, and everything was back to normal.”

Not everyone was so lucky. The hurricane left some families without homes and without anywhere to turn.

“Two of my classmates are from New Jersey. Their entire towns are washed away,” Barishman said. “It is very difficult seeing them go through the pain of losing the boardwalks where they spent their childhoods. We ask everyone to keep the Jersey Shore in mind – the people there are not like what you see on the TV show. They are real, hardworking people with lives that have been destroyed.”

The Planoettes are sponsoring a Hurricane Sandy relief drive. They hope to collect paper towels, rubber gloves, heavy duty trash bags, toilet paper, baby wipers, school supplies and more. Donations will be accepted until Friday, Nov. 16. They also hope to partner with a local business to deliver the supplies to the Seafood School District. It will help people whose homes have been lost and whose schools have been swept away along with all of their supplies. Contact Katy Ericson at [email protected] or call 972-922-7570 with any questions. Any help is appreciated