Sandy Hits Hometowns of McDaniel Students

Coming home to the place you grew up, after a few months of school and stress, is a great comfort to many of us. This semester, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy will have some of us returning to a home where not everything may be exactly how we left it.

Similar to last year’s October storm, many of us have been comfortable on the hill with plenty of power. Some of our families, however, back in our home states further up the coast have had to deal without power, as well as other difficulties for days, even weeks.

Some of our own McDaniel students are from the states that took the bulk of Sandy’s fury. Sophie Wirak, a sophomore from Woodbridge, Connecticut, near New Haven and the shoreline, describes the news she heard from home.

“Basically, my whole town lost power. My parents were without power for at least 4 to 5 days. It was mostly because so many trees came down. This was the first storm in years that our town actually had to make our old firehouse an evacuation center,” Wirak remarks.

Conditions were similar in New York, where a number of McDaniel students also reside. However, Richard Rutkin, a sophomore from Manhattan’s upper east side, tells us his neighborhood was spared from the worst of it.

“My neighborhood didn’t lose power. We didn’t get what downtown got. Or Long Island,” Rutkin states. “My aunt, who lives out there, was out of power for days.”

New Jersey, of course, took the worst of it. Sophomore Dan Reinholtz of Berkeley Heights, NJ, outside of Newark, commented, “I’m from a pretty well-to-do neighborhood on top of a big slope with underground lines and such, but my place was still without power for over a week. In lower areas around where I live, it must have been worse.”

The Jersey Shore, home to Junior Kristine Harjes, was ground zero for the storm. Those watching the news when Sandy hit will likely remember images of the crumbling Atlantic City boardwalk.

Harjes says her own town of Rumson “made it out relatively intact,” with only some downed trees, dangerous roads and power outages for 10 days. But the beach community of Seabright near her town and high school was virtually washed away she says.

“To see pictures and videos of the destruction is just heart-wrenching. Before the storm even technically hit, Ocean Avenue was barely recognizable. The beach where I had my first kiss, my favorite restaurant, the bar my friends and I couldn’t wait to go to when we were all 21… It’s all pretty much gone. And it will be rebuilt, sure, but going home this Thanksgiving and seeing it is not going to be easy,” Harjes says.

Geography can be a big part of who you are, especially if you’re at a school a good distance from home. Those with homes affected by the storm would undoubtedly appreciate some encouraging words from their friends and classmates.

If you know anybody, letting them know that McDaniel is a home away from home and a family away from family would certainly go a long way.