In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, much of New York City along with several hundreds of miles of northeastern coastline, have been devastated.
An unprecedented surge of water and wind bared down on the East coast Monday night, as the largest storm to ever form over the Atlantic Ocean combined forces with a massive Northeastern from the Great Lakes and a Full Moon, pushing hundreds of thousands out of their homes and leaving millions without power as the storm made its way inland.
On Tuesday evening, Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed 18 casualties in NYC alone, with reports of 55 deaths across the eastern seaboard of the United States as well as dozens more in Haiti, Cuba and other Caribbean Islands as a result of the storm. These numbers are current as of 9 a.m. Wednesday Oct. 31.
On Wednesday just before 5 p.m., Chancellor Goldstein sent an all CUNY email announcing the tragic news that one of the fatalities in New York City during Hurricane Sandy was a CUNY student.
“Jacob Vogelman, a 23-year old MFA student enrolled in Brooklyn College’s Department of Theater and his 24-year old friend, Jessie Streich-Kest, [were] both killed by a falling tree in Ditmas Park,” said Goldstein.
In New York City, the MTA preemptively suspended service to all subway and train service at 7 p.m. and all bus service at 9 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 28 by order of Governor Andrew Cuomo. In a later announcement from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, all PATH trains were suspended from New York to New Jersey at one minute past midnight on Monday morning as crews prepared the system as well as it could for the storm.
Shortly after this announcement, CUNY administration notified students that all campus activities would be canceled the following day. Subsequent announcements were made both Monday and Tuesday, leaving students idle for three days.
Classes have since been suspended, and will not resume until Friday, Nov. 2.
According to Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Santiago Mueckay, the Office of Student Life has canceled all of their activities for the remainder of the week.
Mayor Bloomberg ordered evacuation of all areas of the boroughs designated Zone A Sunday evening as well, forcing 375,000 New Yorkers out of their homes and into the storm shelters that dotted the city. As of Tuesday evening, that evacuation order remained in effect.
Of the 17 CUNY campuses, 10 serve as storm shelters that are housing 1,741 of the nearly 6,400 evacuees that remain in the city’s 76 evacuation centers, according to reports from CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and Bloomberg.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Kathy Cobb reported early Monday that, “As of this morning, there were about 450 evacuees [at Baruch College].” Most of the evacuees, said Cobb, were from Zone A.
“They are being housed in the VC in the gym–both sides–and in the dining room on the first floor,” said Cobb. “There are cots, blankets, food, water and medical supplies delivered by OEM on schedule. The shelter was ready to receive evacuees Saturday night but people did not really begin arriving until yesterday and this morning”
The shelter at Baruch College also had back-up generators in place to keep power running along with amenities such as Wi-Fi and other communications capability for the evacuees, and according to Cobb, who visited the site with President Mitchel Wallerstein personally, “Despite the numbers of evacuees, everything was under control and organized.”
Late Tuesday, Bloomberg said in a press conference, “I don’t think it’s any secret, but Sandy hit us very hard. It was a storm of historic intensity, but New Yorkers are resilient and we have seen an enormous outpouring of support from people eager to volunteer, donate and help out.”
According to Bloomberg, “Restoring power and mass transit remain the two biggest challenges in the days ahead.”
The MTA has already begun restoring limited bus service, and will be operating “as close to a normal weekday schedule as possible today,” according to a Wednesday morning press release on the MTA website.
PATH, Long Island Railroad and MTA North trains remain out of service until all tracks have been cleared and deemed safe for transit.
“It is still too early to say how long it will take to restore the system to full service. This is will be an exhaustive, time-consuming process with one goal, to restore safe and efficient service to 8.5 million daily MTA customers,” said the MTA.
Beginning tomorrow at 6 a.m., there will be partial subway service in the boroughs coupled with bus system support for inter-borough transit, with 330 busses tasked with transporting Brooklynites into Manhattan at three choke
While some estimates project that it could take weeks to fully restore the mass transit system in and around the city, Con Edison’s CEO, Kevin Burke, was optimistic Tuesday evening in a joint press conference with Bloomberg, announcing that of the several hundred thousand Con Ed customers without power, most of them should be back on the grid within “three to four days.”
“Hurricane Sandy was the worst storm in Con Edison’s history,” said Burke. “Last year with Hurricane Irene, on a companywide basis, we had about 200,000 customers out of service, this is more than twice that number of customers.”
To speed up the process, Con Ed is bringing in skilled workers from all over the United States to aid with recovery.
“This is a long-term recovery and reconstruction effort and that’s how we need to look at it,” said Cuomo.