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Students’ families face Hurricane Irene

Mel Flanagan | Monday, August 29, 2011

While Notre Dame students enjoyed a sunny weekend, many of their East Coast families experienced torrential rain and high winds from the much-anticipated Hurricane Irene.

Freshman Keira Heneghan said her hometown of Point Lookout, N.Y., received a mandatory evacuation order on Friday. After boarding up the windows and flood-proofing the house, Heneghan’s sisters traveled to New York City to wait out the storm, while her father stayed behind to protect the house from looting.

“My dad brought a kayak into the house in case the water level reached too high,” she said.

The hurricane was not as powerful on Long Island as people expected, Heneghan said.

The power went out and her basement flooded, but due to her family’s preparations, only the carpets were ruined.

Heneghan said the rest of the houses in her community also had flooding, but no major damage.

Some businesses, however, did not fare so well.

“Our fishing station is completely ruined,” Heneghan said. “They’re going to have to completely redo their docks.”

Junior Jill Giunco from Colts Neck, N.J., said the hurricane could have long-lasting impacts on the vineyard she lives on.

“Right now my parents can’t really see what’s going on since it’s really flooded,” she said. “It’s probable that most grapes are destroyed or blown off.”

She said that even if some grapes did survive, the large amounts of rain might have altered their sugar content, which affects their quality.

Giunco’s parents were not able to take many precautions because of the extremely large size of their vineyard, she said.

Giunco’s grandfather, however, bought a generator for his home in Freehold, N.J.

“His basement is flooded five inches, but if he didn’t buy the generator the water would have risen onto his first floor,” she said. “It happened to all his neighbors, but the generator gave him a way to pump out some water even after the power went out.”

Junior Chris Grunewald said his family in Bethesda, Md., felt “let down” by the storm because it did not have as great an impact as they had expected earlier.

“I talked to my eighth-grade sister today, and she said she was incredibly disappointed and she wants a refund,” he said.

Grunewald said his parents looked at the impending hurricane as an opportunity to host a hurricane-themed party at their home.

“They had about fifteen people over and just drank Dark ‘n Stormy’s, rum and ginger beer, all night,” he said.

Although a few houses did lose power in Bethesda, Grunwald said the outage did not last long, and there was no other major damage caused by the storm.

“I think it was overhyped, everyone was just being overly cautious,” he said.