Hurricane Irene affects students' travel plans

The massive storm that hit the Northeast causes delays and dilemmas as students tried to make their way back to Syracuse.

While Hurricane Irene didn’t affect Central New York as badly as cities on the eastern seaboard, several Syracuse University students who planned on moving in this weekend had a lot of trouble traveling to campus.

The storm touched down in North Carolina on Saturday and slammed into New Jersey and New York today, intimidating authorities into shutting down public transit and throughways in the tri-state area and prompting flight delays nationwide.

“I feel like if we would’ve had a storm like that up here, we would’ve been trekking to class.”-
Maria Rodriguez

Students who intended to drive or catch a bus or train to Syracuse this weekend found themselves scrambling to get a seat or forced to wait out the storm until later this week. This created a bizarre first for one student: waiting at home on the university’s first day of classes Monday.

Art history senior Alejandra Nasser hoped to board a 1 p.m. train from New York’s Penn Station to Syracuse on Saturday. An hour before the train was scheduled to depart, the city declared a total shutdown of its subway and bus systems until further notice. Unsure of whether the train would leave the station, and afraid of getting stranded for the weekend, she opted to wait for the next available train on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to regroup before the semester started and now I feel like I’m going to be rushing,” Nasser said. “It’s annoying that everything’s shut down. It’s just very strange. We weren’t even hit that badly.”

The storm’s impact on New York City was weaker than authorities feared earlier in the week, but struck parts of New Jersey and New York State with extreme flooding leading to a handful of deaths. Nasser said she stayed inside at home in her Manhattan neighborhood and packed during the weekend.

“I just stayed put. I took these two days as a chance to not wear makeup," she said. "From what I see from my window, it’s just not a soul. It really does look like a zombie apocalypse."

Another SU student, however, had a different experience with New York’s public transportation system.

Maria Rodriguez, a public relations graduate student, traveled from the Bronx back to Syracuse this weekend and said New York City’s shutdown in anticipation of the hurricane was overblown.

“I feel like if we would’ve had a storm like that up here, we would’ve been trekking to class,” she said.

Rodriguez said she pushed her way through a confused crowd to score a seat on a Greyhound bus that arrived more than an hour late with no announcement on Saturday. It was supposed to hold 60 passengers. The bus driver got off and told the crowd it fit 40.

“I was like, I’m getting on this bus,” she said. “So I pushed through and was the third one in. The bus driver was just yelling at everyone like ‘If you don’t give me space I’ll just leave.’ Other people just started screaming. Everyone wants to get out of the shutdown city."

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