Over a week has passed since hurricane Sandy touched down in the Northeast, but her impact is still being felt across the country. The storm that stretched 600 miles across the coast has brought the U.S. death toll to 110 as of November 5.
Sophomore De Andre’ Woods-Walker grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and had family in the storm’s path. His mother works as a nurse in New York City but lives in New Jersey.
“I knew immediately [that this was coming], around Thursday,” Woods-Walker said. “My mom kept me informed at first because she knew I would be worried … but there was a time when I couldn’t contact her for two days. I knew she would be okay, but it was rough.”
Junior Nicoletta Memos didn’t see this aftermath coming until it happened. Memos has family in upstate New York but previously lived in Syosset, NJ, which is now flooded.
“I heard [about the coming storm] from my mom at first, and we knew it could bring flooding,” Memos said. “But I had no clue it would be like this until my grandpa called me and told me he had no power, he was really cold, and trees were falling around the house. We kind of anticipated damage with the storm, but we definitely didn’t expect something this bad to occur or for it to hit this hard.”
The storm made an emotional impact on top of the physical damage done.
“When I saw Manhattan on the news, and the flooded subways, it hit hard because I know that area. I used to go into the city every other weekend,” Memos said. “But when I saw that Queens was washed away, that really hit me. My grandma and I used to walk those streets together. That’s where she raised me. So that was it for me. I called my sisters, and we were all freaking out.”
According to CNN statistics, over 1.2 million Americans are still without power, and the aftermath of the storm brought damage estimates to $50 billion.
“I have friends and family members throughout [the east coast], and not all of them have power or clean water or or can get to supplies, because stores are empty,” Woods-Walker said.
One of these stores is owned by a close friend of Memos.
“My good friend owns a grocery store in Brooklyn, and all of their supplies were ruined. The water damage was ridiculous, so she is devastated. They lost so much money,” Memos said. “They have to make up for that financial loss. Some of it will be covered by insurance, but they’re pretty frazzled because that business is their main source of income.”
Subway systems were immobilized the night before the storm and now remain flooded, blocking transportation throughout a city where few residents have vehicles.
“The city was shut down for awhile, so you couldn’t get in or get out,” Woods-Walker said. “It has been reopened, but mass transit is still down, so people can’t really get anywhere.”
For those who do have cars, another problem arose.
“People have been getting up around 2 a.m. and sleeping at the gas stations until they open to get gas,” Memos said. “There are lines at every station, and people are camping out and fighting for gas even at small stations, so my grandpa doesn’t leave the house because his tank is low.”
Local efforts and shelters provided help to those in need.
“My mother is a minister at our church, which is currently helping out single parents without power, and it also held a Red Cross drive [last week] to help those local efforts,” Woods-Walker said.
Over 100 homes in Queens, NY burned to the ground following the storm. Flooded businesses and neighborhoods leave the question of how the hurricane victims will rebuild, and how long it will take before electricity and clean water return to the areas affected.
“We are hoping that things will get back on track [by this weekend],” Woods-Walker said. “But everybody was saying the election [was] more important, and that really broke my heart. I think it’s sad that many of [these victims] feel that way. I would think that this aftermath would come first as a priority.”
President Obama visited affected areas in Atlantic City, New Jersey, putting campaign efforts on hold. At a campaign event in Ohio, Romney supporters brought a wave of donations to the Red Cross to help relief efforts.
“I appreciate the camaraderie that we as Americans get when tragedy happens, and the way we kind of pull together,” Woods-Walker said. “For about two days, I didn’t hear about the elections. Instead I heard about Sandy and efforts to help victims in certain areas, and I really appreciated that. I was very pleased with the President’s reaction to everything, and how he related to everyone in a way.”