In the Path of Sandy
At 4:51 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 a notification was sent out to the students of Bloomsburg University that classes were to be cancelled Monday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday Oct.30. While students celebrated their prolonged weekend, university and town officials begun preparation for the ‘Frankenstorm.’ Aptly named, since it is to hit landfall the week of Halloween, the Frankenstorm is a combination of category 1 Hurricane Sandy and a unnamed arctic storm originating from the north. The storm as of 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time was just making landfall along the coast of Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.
Sandy’s strongest winds have reported of being 90 mph (miles per hour) in the center of the storm. This is just shy of a category 2 hurricane which would have winds from 95 mph to 115 mph. Sandy went from being a tropical storm originating off the coast of Panama to a category 1 hurricane on Wednesday,Oct. 24 as it passed over Jamaica. On Thursday, Oct. 25 Sandy became a category 2 as it passed over Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas Islands before settling down to a category 1. Over the weekend Sandy travelled out over the Atlantic bypassing the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. However the outskirts of the storm were felt by the coast of North Carolina and Virginia starting on Sunday. The Frankenstorm is expected to come ashore early evening today Monday Oct. 29. According to current predictions the storm is to remain inland traveling up New England and into Nova Scotia.
Damage from Sandy is already comparable to that of Hurricane Irene back in 2011. Although just a category 1 at the time Sandy is blamed for one death in Jamaica, leaving 70 percent of the island without power and another 1000 people flocking to shelters as the storm hit Kingston around 3 p.m. on Wednesday. One hundred fifteen mph winds bore down on Cuba and Haiti, leaving a death toll of 11 in Cuba and 51 in Haiti with 15 people still missing. Over 300,000 people are with out homes across the two countries as people clear rumble and start to rebuild. A cholera outbreak is feared to be starting in Haiti in the wake of Sandy’s destruction. Despite not hitting landfall yet, damage to the United States coast is already present. Rain has already caused flooding in coastal areas particularly New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. 300,000 are without power throughout the northeast and that number is expected to climb as winds continue to bring down power lines, uproot trees and send debris flying. A popular and famous tourist spot the Atlantic City pier in New Jersey, has been damaged due to sea surges and powerful waves.
Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett declared a State of Emergency for all of Pennsylvania in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. The town and Bloomsburg University itself is making precautions for the impending storm. BU has been sending regualar updates and warning to the students and faculty. “We are expected to get 3 to 5 inches of rain that does not necessarily pose a threat for the flood we had last year. We are concerned about more of the possibility of a power outage,” said Rosalee Rush, assistant vice president of marketing and communications here at BU.” In the event of a power outage we have all the capabilities of providing food, heat, shelter and water for all of our campus community. So we have already made those plans, we have already prepared our campus. So you should definitely pay attention to the messages you are getting from us,” said Rush. Rush also commented that in the event of storm damage, the university will find living arrangements for students living off campus.
Since the flood of last year and previous ones the town of Bloomsburg is no stranger to high waters. Dan Knorr the mayor of Bloomsburg has sent out warning and advisories in response to the coming storm. Using social media outlets such as Facebook, Knorr is preparing the town.
“STORM UPDATES: The Red Cross is opening shelters at Columbia/Montour Vo-Tech (5050 Sweppenheiser Drive, South Centre Township) & Danville Area School District for any that are displaced/evacuated from their homes. Also, Incident Command for Town of Bloomsburg has been established at Town Hall (301 E. 2nd St.),” Mayor Knorr said in a recent Facebook post.
Large truck fulls of water called water buffaloes are to be placed around town as well in case of water contamination according to Mayor Knorr’s Storm Update Facebook posts. The Pennslyvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is encouraging people to stay off Interstates and warning motorist of lowered speeds and possible dangers.