When life at home spins out of control

Junior creative producing major Genna Bromley’s home in Westbrook, Connecticut was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. Courtesy Genna Bromley

Genna Bromley watched her television as crumbled houses floated through the Hurricane Sandy waters. She could only hope her home wasn’t one of them, as a dead tone answered her efforts to call her family because of destroyed power lines.

Chapman students with families on the East Coast anxiously waited for news on the storm’s aftermath while still attending classes in Orange two weeks ago. Although many broadcasts have now turned away from affected areas, and the water has drained from living rooms, these students are left with knowledge that their loved ones are rebuilding homes and lives 3,200 miles away.

Bromley, a junior creative producing major, said her parents managed to evacuate from Westbrook, Conn., to her grandparents’ house further inland. Yet she said she was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to reach them for four to five days because electrical lines were down.

“I was a nervous wreck. I kind of knew that I would temporarily not be able to reach them and so I kept it being positive,” Bromley said. “I had to remind myself that things were just things and that as long as my family was OK then the rest would be just fine too.”

Hurricane Sandy is the second most costly storm in United States history with more than $50 billion of damage repair extending from South Carolina to Maine. Hurricane Sandy left more than 8.5 million people without power and took the lives of an estimated 100 people, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Junior psychology major Samantha Paprin said some of her family members’ homes in Seaside Heights, N.J. disappeared in the flooding.

“My uncle couldn’t find two of the family houses, the third was flooded,” Paprin said. “Friends have told me that there are animals floating along the streets.”

Paprin said that she feels guilty being in 85-degree weather in California while others at home have been impacted, especially because she won’t return home until after finals in December.

“I can’t control mother-nature, and Sandy was not my fault, but part of me wishes I could have been there with them,” Paprin said.

Bromley will be returning to her home in Westbrook during Thanksgiving break. For now, she said the only thing she can do is check in with her parents every day by phone.

The sites will be familiar to her since she witnessed the destruction of Hurricane Irene last year.  “The house will be cluttered and the beach is going to look different,” Bromley said. “Before with Irene, the beach was completely flat and all the fences were broken.”

Senior biological sciences major Briana Lieberman serves as a volunteer with health services at Red Cross and was asked to help for ten days in the aftermath of the hurricane.

“They normally use volunteers on the East Coast,” Lieberman said. “The fact that they’re willing to take people from California, us being the farthest away, shows how bad it is.”

Lieberman said the Red Cross was lowering requirements needed for people to be deployed like making the eight-hour class sessions available online and lowering required prerequisites.

“It’s important for the entire nation to come together as a community,” Lieberman said. “We need to help people in our country when they need it the most.”

Red Cross has put a hold on deploying Lieberman, but she said she will be ready when it calls again.

Red Cross associate director of donor communications Ishell Linares said 30 volunteers have been deployed from the areas of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino to assist victims.

“We are expecting this to be one of the largest disasters nationally,” Linares said. “It’s been the largest response in which we have had in the past five years.”  

Linares said volunteers are the best source of help.

“We have been serving warms meals, clean-up kits and supplying food and needed supplies including volunteers which are our ultimate, greatest resource,” she said.

Despite the risks of future natural disasters happening again on the East Coast, Paprin said the perseverance of the people there motivates her to one day move back to her childhood home in Manhattan.

“It makes me proud of being a New Yorker,” Paprin said. “I will be back there, living there again.”

Storm Stats

>> More than 150 deaths
>> Began as a tropical wave in the Caribbean Oct. 19
>> Made landfall in the United States at about 8 p.m. EDT Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, New Jersey
>> Caused $20 billion in property damage and up to $30 billion in lost business
>> Hurricane-force winds (at least 74 mph) extended up to 175 miles (280 kilometers)

How to help Hurricane Sandy victims
Red Cross: A text of ‘redcross’ can be sent directly to 90999 for an instant $10 donation, which helps in buying the needed resources like mobile seating, food and shelter.
Attend Hurricane Sandy Awareness day to learn more about the superstorm and donate to organizations of your choice. Argyros Forum Great Room, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. FREE.
Blood Drive: The Red Cross will be holding a blood drive to benefit victims of the hurricane. Student Union Ballroom AF 119A, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sign-up online at www.givelife.org and use sponsor code CU.

 

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