Baylor in New York students suffer setbacks due to Irene

By Robyn Sanders

Students already in New York City with the Baylor in New York program are safe following tropical storm Irene, but some students still in Texas faced problems trying to rearrange their flights.

The Baylor in New York program gives students the opportunity to live in New York for a semester while having an internship and taking classes with Dr. Joe Kickasola, associate professor of film and digital media and director of the Baylor in New York program.

Dr. David Schlueter, professor and chair of the communication studies department, said the students in New York City are fine, and that Kickasola was in contact through the weekend with students who had not yet arrived. Students who were not already in New York were encouraged to change their flights to a later date, and classes that were scheduled to start earlier this week were delayed to give them time to arrive.

“We made sure that their safety was first and foremost,” Schlueter said.

According to the New York Times, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 65 mile per hour winds by the time it reached New York City around 9 a.m. on Sunday. The storm hit New York City with heavy rain, strong winds and flooding in some areas.

According to the Associated Press, 330,000 New Yorkers were still without power as of Wednesday morning, and the state’s death toll reached nine. The damage is estimated at $ 1 billion.

Houston senior Josh Overton planned to arrive in New York City on Saturday, but because of Irene’s projected landfall Sunday morning and the shutdown of the airports and mass transit system in New York, he did not fly in until Wednesday – the same day his classes were scheduled to start and the day before he was to start work. Overton said he is not worried, although he will now be “fresh off the boat,” instead of able to spend a few days getting settled.

“Now the plan is to fly Wednesday, start class Wednesday, and start work Thursday; kind of a crazy trial by fire.” Overton said. “I land at 1:30 and start class at 7.”

He said he tried to move his flight to Monday or Tuesday, but the airline did not include Saturday flights in their storm advisory, which meant he would have to pay a rescheduling fee.

“Their policy said that people flying Sunday or Monday could change without problem. In fact, it encouraged those travelers to move their flights up to Saturday,” Overton wrote in a blog post. “But if you were flying Saturday, your flights were not canceled and therefore it would be your fault if you changed.”

Overton said that by Friday night, New York officials announced they would be closing the airports as well as the mass transit system; it was only after this that the airline moved his flight without a fee.

“My flight was canceled, and because they had spent all day filling flights, the only thing available was Wednesday,” Overton said.

Even if it is not in the way he planned, Overton said he is excited to be going to New York.

“I cannot wait to get up there and start working,” Overton said. “It is going to be incredible.”