At least 121 people have perished due to Superstorm Sandy, a hurricane that ravaged the U.S. coast from Florida to Maine. Sandy ranks as one of the most costly storms to have reached the American coastline—an estimated $50 billion in damages— with much of the destruction happening in the Northeast.
Kate Worzala, a sophomore University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student working on a master’s degree in English education, was in New York City on a Continuing Education trip to see Broadway shows with nineteen other students.
Worzala said that for the majority of the trip the weather was sunny and nice but that it quickly changed the day the storm hit.
“Sunday, when you walked out the door, it was probably fifteen to twenty degrees colder than it had been the other days, and the sky was dark, like a deep-blue dark.
It was very windy, kind of like a harsh cold wind that was all over. Saturday was kind of unofficial Halloween, and Sunday just felt really deserted.
Saturday night in Times Square compared to Sunday in Times Square was a huge difference,” Worzala said.
The group was able to see the effects of the impending storm firsthand. Announcements notified New Yorkers of the closing of all public transportation, a rare event for a city where 54 percent of the population commutes to work, the majority of which utilize the vast subway system.
Worzala said that there was a mixture in opinion from New Yorkers about just how the hurricane would affect the city. Many of the events around the city continued right up until the storm hit, including a religious procession through the streets at 4 p.m. when the weather was beginning to worsen.
“Before we left, we didn’t want to have to stop to eat so I went to a Rite Aid, which is basically like a Walgreens, but the snacks and the bottled water had been ransacked, and there were four lines of people, almost like a holiday shopping crowd of people trying to get stocked up to leave. I heard someone in front of me say, ‘I’m just going to go home and get tucked in and wait out the storm,’ and another person behind me say, ‘You think we had never heard a storm here the way people are reacting,’ so it was kind of interesting to hear how people were being blasé about it,” Worzala said.
Worzala’s group was scheduled to leave the afternoon Sandy hit but quickly realized that the flight home would be canceled due to the pounding wind and rain. The group then chose to rent cars and drive home to Wisconsin.
“The wind was definitely picking up, and the sky was a gray blue. I don’t think I saw the sun that day. The rental car place was a mess with people because everyone’s flights had been canceled, and everyone was trying to get out before the wind picked up,” Worzala said.
Worzala said that it began to rain heavily as they reached New Jersey and that the downpour and heavy winds continued until the group reached Ohio.
“What we were driving away from was pretty nasty,” Worzala said.
Worzala stressed the importance of Professor Patricia Kluetz, the UWSP faculty member who led the trip, in helping the group escape the city unscathed.
“She was aces. She was very cool and calm. She was very efficient. She was a good captain of the ship,” Worzala said. “It was a great trip. I hope they do it again under better circumstances.”