Students respond to aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Kirstin Cook, Editor-in-Chief

Mikel Hartsough watched nervously as ocean water seeped up the stairs of his house. As the rain pounded his city relentlessly, the flooding slowly and steadily crept higher. The sounds of roaring wind and his dogs barking in fright only added to the intensity.

“It was a little intense seeing the water rise above your steps,” the senior communication studies major said. “It’s definitely odd.”

Hartsough was at his home in Ocean City, N.J. when Hurricane Sandy struck. While Wilkes-Barre avoided the brunt of the storm, many students like Hartsough were affected when the storm hit their hometowns.

Hartsough was unable to leave the city until Wednesday because of closed bridges. By the time he left, and even the following day, he did not have power at his house.

While there was no damage detected to his house, Hartsough observed a great deal of destruction to the physical properties of his oceanside community, as well as the resulting impact on their economy. He said the local businesses typically stay open until Christmas, but many of them were forced to close early due to the damage of their storefronts.

“There’s no point in refurbishing, reopening and whatnot,” Hartsough said. “I know that’ll affect the business in the area.”

He said the most destructive time was when the storm started up again at night. Many residents were wrongly informed that the worst had passed.

“The second half, when the eye had passed, was actually much worse in Ocean City,” Hartsough said. “That’s when most of the damage was done.”

Besides damage to businesses, he said the major impact was on the Boardwalk, piers and beaches.

“The beaches are not even in existence any more. It’s weird.”

He said the hardest part was seeing the damage to the Boardwalk, an icon that strikes up memories of childhood and vacations for many students.

“The thing that was significant as far as growing up there was just seeing the Boardwalk in kind of shambles,” Hartsough said. “It was the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

Hartsough is just one example of a Wilkes student living in the path of the destruction. According to the Wilkes Fact Book, 253 students from New Jersey were enrolled at Wilkes in 2011.

Kyle Wolfe said this connection to the affected locations is a reason to help out the victims of the storm. That’s why he started the Wilkes Cares campaign to raise relief money.

“A lot of our students are from the areas that got hit by the hurricane,” Wolfe said. “So I feel like showing them that even though we’re in Northeastern Pennsylvania that we still care about their homes and where they’re from.”

The campaign is a T-shirt sale with all proceeds going to an undetermined grassroots organization that is aiding hurricane victims.

Wolfe, a senior communication studies major, said he decided to pursue the T-shirt sales despite having no personal connection to New Jersey and having only visited the Jersey shore once. He said it creates an easy way for the Wilkes community to provide aid.

“I saw there was a need and a lot of people need help,” Wolfe said.

He said the feedback to the fundraiser was nothing but positive, and the numbers speak for themselves: There were 137 pre-orders made for the shirts in less than 24 hours.

T-shirts cost $10 for Small to XL and $12 for 2XL and larger. There are four designs and four colors to choose from. Preorder can be made in the Student Union Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, through Thursday or by emailing [email protected]

Wolfe said enough orders could make a big difference.

“Wilkes University is a small school in Pennsylvania, but we can still do big things.”