Baylor in New York students weather the storm together

By Linda Nguyen

Staff Writer

Hurricane Sandy has taken the country by storm, affecting an estimated 50 million people, including Baylor alumni and current students in the storm’s path.

Dr. Joseph Kickasola, director of the Baylor Communication in New York program, said the Baylor students in New York are very prepared for the storm. Fifteen of the 17 students enrolled in the program remain in New York, while two students returned home over the weekend in response to Sandy.

“Everybody is doing great, considering the circumstances,” Kickasola said. “We’re fully prepared with several days worth of water, food and batteries for our communication devices.

Kickasola said the remaining students and faculty will not be evacuated and are waiting out the storm.

“We’re prepared to spend a couple days in the dorm without electricity or water,” Kickasola said. “Nothing horrible has happened. We’re confident we’ll make it through just fine.”

Kickasola said he and the students spent four days preparing for the Sandy.

“We had to create an emergency plan,” Kickasola said. “We had to work out every scenario like finding where the evacuation centers would be if we evacuated, setting up protocol for situations like if the windows broke, what would be the procedure for getting out of the apartment with hurricane winds. We talked it through with the students.”

Leigh Ann Moffett, director of emergency management for Baylor, said both emergency management and Baylor Police have been in contact with the group in New York.

“As far as communication is concerned, myself, as well as representatives from the Baylor Police Department have been in touch with the faculty there and we had ongoing discussions about what their preparedness plans looked like and made sure they communicated their plans with the students,” Moffett said.

Whitney Van Laningham, a Newbury Park Calif. senior who is living in Long Island as part of the program, said she and her roommates began planning for the storm in advance.

“My roommates and I stocked up on food that does not have to be reheated or frozen in case our electricity goes out,” Van Laningham said. “Yesterday, everybody in our apartment filled up the bathtubs in case the water goes out so we will have clean water. We have all of our phones and laptops constantly on charge, and we all have bags packed in case we do have to evacuate.”

Van Laningham said her city has been on lockdown since Sunday night.

Van Laningham said the people around her don’t seem too concerned about the hurricane of its aftermath.

“The people I work with are not afraid,” Van Laningham said. “They were like ‘Come in, we’ll order pizza and watch the storm.’ Everyone is appropriately worried, but no one is too worried and no one is freaking out.”

San Antonio senior Rachel Ambelang, who is going to be part of the Baylor Communications in New York program in the spring, said some students may be uneasy about not hearing back from their internships.

“You’re always worried you’re going to be the first kid in the program not to get an internship,” Ambelang said. “We just have to be patient and know that work is probably the last thing on their mind. It’s worrisome, but it’s a reminder that these people are human beings and their safety comes first, and hopefully we’ll hear back from our programs at the end of the week.”

2012 Baylor alumna Jenny Bates, now a graduate student at George Washington University, is currently living in Alexandria, Va., and was not ordered to evacuate in the face of the storm. Bates said her classes were canceled Monday in anticipation of the storm.

“They haven’t issued statements about classes for tomorrow, so we’ll be waiting for tomorrow,” Bates said. “Even if classes are on, I wouldn’t be able to go in because the metro systems are shut down.”

Kickasola also said students who will be in the Baylor in New York program for next semester should not worry about registering for classes yet, as they will be given further instructions at a later time.