Stepping up in Sandy's Wake

By Lindsay Kramer '12

Sandy's Wake

Months after Superstorm Sandy, Sea Bright still has a long road to recovery

‌‌For the Montclair State community, Superstorm Sandy was more than a breaking news story. Despite being closed for an unprecedented week in the devastating wake of the October storm, the University soon found itself involved in both on-campus and statewide recovery efforts.

Relief for students and staff

Sandy’s trail of destruction in New Jersey left dozens dead, millions without power, impassably flooded roads, massive shoreline erosion and a gasoline shortage. It will cost at least $37 billion to repair the damage, state officials say.

The University’s response to the storm was swift. The Department of Residential Education offered spare residence hall rooms—free of charge—to commuter students and staff members who were adversely affected by the storm. “I was so thankful the school offered housing for the week,” says Kaitlyn Scrudato, a junior from Whiting, N.J. “It was really a big help.”

Access to University services, hot showers and fresh food also helped the University community get the semester back on track.

As a follow-up, the College of Education and Human Services offered free counseling sessions for faculty, staff and their families to share their feelings about the storm and its aftermath.

Helping New Jersey rebuild‌‌‌

Broader relief efforts were spearheaded by the University’s Center for Student Involvement and the Service-Learning and Community Engagement Program. “I grew up in North Middletown and Keyport and spent summers in Sea Bright, which were all impacted by the storm,” says Krystal Woolston, assistant director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement. “This storm has allowed us to grow stronger as communities and really lend a helping hand to strangers and turn them into neighbors.”

In late November, three dozen students, faculty and staff members helped with cleanup in Sea Bright—one of the hardest hit communities on the Jersey Shore. Much of their work involved shoveling sand piled as high as four feet out of houses. It was a labor of love for volunteers like junior Danielle Knoeppel, who worked on the beach for seven summers. “It’s definitely the place I wanted to help out,” she says. “Everyone was really thankful for what we did.”

Woolston was also part of the team. “It was heartbreaking,” she recalls. “The bay shore that I knew and loved has been forever changed.”

Other campus groups did their part. The Center for Child Advocacy held a bake sale and toy drive to benefit families affected by Sandy. The toys, which were donated to the children of P.S. 52 on Staten Island, N.Y., helped make the holidays a little brighter for families whose homes and property had been destroyed.

In early December, Service-Learning and Community Engagement sponsored a program that took in donations of gift cards for grocery and home improvement stores. The cards were then given to Restore the Shore, Sea Bright Rising, Rebuild Monmouth County and Rebuild Ocean County for people struggling to rebuild homes and lives shattered by Sandy.

As part of the larger New Jersey community, Montclair State has proved itself to be truly “Jersey Strong.” For Woolston, the outpouring of support has been heartwarming and inspiring. “The outreach has been amazing,” she says. “It restores your faith in humanity and in America as a whole.”

Sandy Wake studentsMontclair State students helped with clean up in Sea Bright after Superstorm Sandy.