Sandy spurs hangouts, climate change advocacy

By and
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc throughout the Northeast Monday night with torrential downpours and fallen trees affecting many communities. With the storm center tracking west of Rhode Island, Brown students weathered the storm in relative safety and used their two class-free hurricane days to pursue a range of activities, from raising awareness about climate change outdoors to bonding with friends indoors.  

When the storm reached its peak, Sophia Krugman ‘13.5 said she felt slight cabin fever from being inside for so long. Though she tried to do work and had “very cozy hurricane times” drinking wine, listening to music and eating soup with friends, she said “the stormy weather made me feel a little stormy myself.” 

Krugman said she and several friends ventured outside before the storm’s peak to make a blanket fort under a tree just outside Machado – “we decided we had to watch Twin Peaks in the hurricane,” she said. University officials instructed students to stay inside at the height of the hurricane in an email sent out to the Brown community before the storm started.

She added that she was not so much worried for College Hill, which was not directly hit by the storm, as she was for relatives in New York and “more flood-prone areas.” 

Krugman noted that houses were burning 10 minutes from her parents’ home in New York after a massive fire broke out during the storm.

Saba Shevidi ’16 also expressed concern for friends in Pennsylvania and New York. 

“I knew it wasn’t going to hit Rhode Island badly,” she said.

Aside from moving her water filter away from her window, Shevidi said she did not take extra precautions for the storm. 

Camila Pacheco-Fores ’14 said she was “feeling so angsty” Monday night that she and her suitemates decided to do yoga in their laundry room.

She also pursued activities she does not typically have time for such as cooking, watching TV and hanging out with her suitemates. She described the nighttime atmosphere as bizarre – people were wandering around outside and drinking in a “weird fusion between a weekday and a weekend.”

Pacheco-Fores added that though she felt safe, “the greater Providence community is not so fortunate” to have the extensive infrastructure Brown provides.

Some students saw the hurricane as representative of wider climate change issues and ventured outside to raise awareness of the cause. 

Students affiliated with the Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition gathered Tuesday at noon to join a national 350.org campaign to “Connect the Dots” between severe weather events and climate change. People all around the world took photos to show mass support for the movement, said David Chodakewitz ’15.

The Facebook-publicized gathering drew 25 students, who stood in the rain to pose with a canvas dot on Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle, protesting the media’s “peculiar silence surrounding climate change,” said Christian Petroske ’15, a contributing writer for The Herald.

“(Hurricane Sandy) was the main reason we chose today – we wanted to show that the climate is changing,” organizer Klara Zimmerman ’15 said.

“We brainstormed this last night and pulled together a banner in a couple hours,” organizer Emily Koo ’13 added. She said the rareness of severe hurricanes helped emphasize that recent weather events may be linked to climate change.

Eastside Marketplace had to call in extra employees to staff the store leading up to the hurricane because it was so busy Sunday night, said Christina Clark, a customer service employee.

People purchased water, bread, ice and paper towels, and each item had to be restocked or reordered by the end of the night, Clark said. The store remained open through Monday.

CVS also remained open and had a crowded and hectic atmosphere, said Laura Rodriguez, a cashier. Because many new students did not know what to expect, they asked CVS employees about Providence’s experience in last year’s hurricane, she said.

Chodakewitz said he got a bag of Mini Oreos in preparation for the storm.

Eunice Lee ’14 said she and her suitemates stayed inside for most of the two days, holding a “hurricane tea time” to bond with each other.

She added that productivity dipped during the two days off. Each time the University sent out a notification announcing that classes were cancelled, she said she heard “cheers throughout the building.”

Lauren Stewart ’15 said she bought a headband, bracelet and dress from Urban Outfitters, which held an online sale coinciding with Hurricane Sandy. 

“I didn’t really see Brown’s campus getting too affected by it, so I was just pretty happy we didn’t have class,” said Spencer Traver ’15. Despite the two days off, he said he was glad school was resuming today.

“I’m excited to get back into the classroom, get working again,” he said.