A group of Florida A&M students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Angela Coleman recently made it back safely to Tallahassee after being stranded in New York after the effects of hurricane Sandy left local airports under water and millions without power.
Victor Manuel, a third-year accounting student, along with eight other FAMU students, traveled to New York City on Oct. 26 before news that Hurricane Sandy was headed in the direction of what is known as the heart of the country. The nine students were part of the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute, a program dedicated to career development and internship placement for students who attend HBCUs.
The program paid for all expenses during the recruitment trip for students to meet with Fortune 500 companies to increase their chances of earning summer internships.
Manuel said he could not see the damages from his hotel.
From the images seen on TV, some may be led to think New York is destroyed. However, Nyalls Carlton, a third-year finance student, said the images were “very exaggerated” compared to what she saw.
The fear of being in New York City during a major storm had Daphne Charles, a third-year accounting student from Miami, on edge.
“When you hear about a hurricane, you know to be prepared,” Charles said. “I never thought a hurricane would come to New York. Hurricane Sandy was like ‘[The] Perfect Storm’ Part 2 for New York.”
According to Manuel, where they were located, flooding and damages were minimal, and they were among the few who still had power.
Even though students enjoyed the extended vacation, some parents were outraged and believe the school should have cancelled or rescheduled that trip as a safety measure for students.
Pam Tolson, a FAMU spokeswoman, said the university was not expecting the storm to head to New York when the students left. The group was supposed to be back in Tallahassee by Tuesday morning, but their flight was delayed three times due to damages and flooding at the airport.
Carlton said the airport was fine when they got there and “the photos we saw look photoshopped.”
“When we got there today, it looked like a regular airport,” Carlton said.
To pass time, students got to know each other and visited Times Square.
“We were doing the FAMU strolls and enjoying New York,” Charles said.
More than 6 million people were without power as of Thursday and the death toll has reached 38 in New York. The cost of damage could total billions of dollars, and public transportation are being reopened after being shut down for a few days.
With a week of festivities starting Nov. 3, Manuel said he is ready to come home.
“I’m ready to get back in town for homecoming,” Manuel said before returning.