Flooding, Snow, and Power Outages Close Colleges in Storm's Wake

Asawari Sodhi, The Daily Princetonian

Princeton U., like many campuses in Hurricane Sandy's path, escaped major structural damage, but it remained closed on Wednesday because of power outages. More than 30 trees fell at Princeton as the storm passed through.
October 30, 2012

[Updated at 9:29 p.m.]

Colleges up and down the East Coast will remain closed on Wednesday, some without power, as they clean up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy, which unleashed high winds, heavy rain, and more than a foot of snow on various parts of the region.

Some campuses will reopen, while others report that it could be days before power is restored and flood waters are mopped up.

Campuses in parts of the New York metropolitan area—Lower Manhattan and Long Island, in particular—were among the hardest hit. Many may stay closed for some time, with disruptions in the region's transportation system further delaying their reopening.

Among the more than 100 deaths tied to Hurricane Sandy, the storm claimed the life of a 23-year-old student who was pursuing a graduate degree in theater design from the City University of New York's Brooklyn College. The student, Jacob Vogelman, and a friend were walking a dog in a neighborhood near the campus on Monday night when a tree, uprooted by high winds, fell on them, according to campus and news reports.

Meanwhile, in Lower Manhattan, New York University's Langone Medical Center had to evacuate nearly 300 patients on Monday night after the storm knocked out power and a backup generator failed. The patients, including newborn babies on respirators, were carried down darkened stairwells and then transported by ambulance to other hospitals in the city.

NYU's main campus suffered power outages but no major damage.

Water Damage at Mock Casino

The State University of New York system reported power failures and downed trees on many of its 64 campuses. High winds ripped the roof of a science and engineering building at the system's Maritime College, which is located on a small peninsula jutting into Long Island Sound. The building, like many facing bodies of water hit by storm surges, also suffered extensive flooding, according to a system spokesman.

Stony Brook University, a Long Island campus that is also part of the SUNY system, lost network connectivity, disrupting e-mail and knocking its Web site offline.

In New Jersey, Atlantic Cape Community College suffered damage to a casino-training facility in Atlantic City, near where Sandy came ashore.

"About 50 gallons of water came through the roof, damaging ceiling tiles and gaming tables at a mock casino," said Kathleen J. Corbalis, a college spokeswoman. All three of the college's campuses were without power on Tuesday and will remain closed on Wednesday.

Rutgers University's main campus, in New Brunswick, played host to more than 800 evacuees from the devastated Atlantic City area in two campus shelters. Classes were canceled for the rest of the week at the university's Newark and New Brunswick campuses.

Monmouth University, located five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean in West Long Branch, N.J., also remained closed for classes, at least through Wednesday, but open to more than 1,000 storm evacuees.

Elsewhere in the state, Princeton and Drew Universities were among the many campuses that will remain closed on Wednesday because of power disruptions and safety concerns. Princeton officials urged students and employees to avoid construction sites and flooded areas, and to use electrical devices sparingly to reduce the load on the university's cogeneration plant.

Not a Sprint but a Marathon

The City University of New York operated 10 shelters that housed more than 1,700 people, many of them homeless or poor, at the height of the storm.

Several of the system's campuses were badly damaged by wind gusts and rain. Borough of Manhattan Community College, in Lower Manhattan, suffered "severe water damage" to its engineering plant and computer center, and was without power on Tuesday, according to Michael Arena, a system spokesman.

Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, N.Y., reported flooding in temporary buildings, the academic center, and the cafeteria. The college, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, has a renowned maritime program. Hunter College's Brookdale campus, in Lower Manhattan, had extensive water damage to its physical-therapy facilities. A gymnasium roof at Queens College was also damaged.

"This is not a sprint, it is a marathon," Mr. Arena wrote in an e-mail. "We are prepared for the long haul and will continue to assist the city in assisting people in need, in assessing the damage, and in reopening the university as soon as it is safely possible."

At Yale University, a 100-pound exhaust fan fell from the top of an engineering building on Monday and a bus shelter on the campus blew out, shattering glass onto the street, according to the campus's Web site. Students were warned on Monday to remain indoors because of downed limbs and wires. The curfew was lifted on Tuesday morning, and there were no reports of major damage.

Also in Connecticut, Fairfield University reminded all students living in beachfront homes that the town had ordered them to evacuate. Campus officials urged everyone else to go home if they could, or to stay indoors with windows locked if they couldn't. The campus made it through the storm with no major damage, but classes will remain cancelled on Wednesday.

'We Were Very Fortunate'

Snow, not rain, shut down colleges in several states, where blizzard conditions were reported, along with forecasts of up to two feet of snow.

Several campuses across West Virginia were closed after heavy, wet snow and high winds downed power lines and made driving treacherous.

But at Appalachian State University, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, "students are all tucked in and taken care of," said Hank T. Foreman, associate vice chancellor for university communications and cultural affairs. More than six inches of snow had fallen on Tuesday, with winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour and more heavy snow in the forecast. No damage was reported there so far, Mr. Foreman said on Tuesday.

Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pa., advised students who had gone home for the weekend to stay there. Aside from downed tree limbs and minor leaks, however, "we were very fortunate," said Julia C. Ferrante, a campus spokeswoman. She said some students had used the time off to plan their spring schedules.

Among other campuses reporting minimal damage and power outages were the University of Rhode Island and Salve Regina University, in Newport, R.I.

The University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, Md., reported that about 700 students had been housed during the storm in the student-services and athletics centers. Power was disrupted for about eight hours, and some buildings had minor leaks.

The storm forced groups including the Society for United States Intellectual History to cancel meetings scheduled to take place in New York this week.

But Sandy provided some welcome news to high-school students scrambling to turn in early-action or early-decision applications. Dozens of colleges extended their deadlines for students affected by the storm.

Nick DeSantis, Jenny Rogers, and Peter Schmidt contributed to this article.