As Sandy hits East Coast, Missourians reach out to loved ones

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | 9:51 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Post-tropical cyclone Sandy landed Monday night. Here is a map showing the progression and projected track of Sandy, and active weather alerts in each state from the National Weather Service as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — In the aftermath of Sandy, which hit the New Jersey coast Monday evening and caused major flooding and widespread blackouts, Missourians and others are dealing with a variety of issues, including keeping in touch with family and managing travel plans. 

Keeping in contact 

Flore Zéphir, chairwoman of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at MU, has family in Haiti and New York. Both areas were in the storm's path. 

Zéphir said that based on what she's heard and seen, the residential areas of Port-au-Prince, where her two brothers live, have not sustained significant damage.

Although she hasn't heard from her family, Zéphir said if something bad had happened to any of them, she would have received a call or email by now. 

Joceylynn Granderson, 20, of St. Louis, said she's been receiving news on the hurricane mostly from Twitter, but also via the nightly news and her Yahoo homepage. Granderson has friends in New York and family in Virginia. 

"I haven't yet, but I will soon see if they're doing OK," she said. Granderson said she thinks her friends from Brooklyn have evacuated the area.

Ryan Clark, 21, of Kansas City, said although he's seen a few items about Sandy on Facebook, he's mostly been getting his news from CNN. Like many people in the Midwest, Clark said he can't relate to what those on the East Coast are experiencing. 

"I can't conceptualize a hurricane very well because I haven't experienced one," he said.

Travel changes

At Columbia Regional Airport, Don Elliott, airport manager, said flights are departing on time. 

Elliott said he doesn't expect the storm affecting the East Coast to disrupt airport operations in Columbia. 

Muatez Aziz, 28, of Baghdad, was supposed to fly to his hometown today. Because of the storm, Aziz will leave Nov. 2. He has had to take off work because of the delay. 

"This is messed up. It makes me lose money," Aziz said. 

Sandy might also delay his family's flight home from St. Louis in a few weeks, which he said might double the price of airline tickets.  

Trucking industry

At the Westland Travel Center off Interstate 70 in Kingdom City, George Newberry, 67, walked toward his truck with a new steering wheel in hand. 

Newberry picked up an empty trailer in Jefferson City on Tuesday. He was heading back to Elwood, Ill., to drop off the trailer and pick up another load. 

Newberry, who is from Kankakee, Ill., said the storm won't affect him much, but that business operations will be messy.

"It'll be a lot of delay, things messed up for four or five days," Newberry said. "Lots of trucks from Indiana and Illinois are going up (East) to repair electrical damage."

John Hargis, another trucker from Jamestown+, Mo., saw a convoy of about 15 utility trucks headed east on I-70 Tuesday morning. He said there were two pickup trucks also, one at the front, the other at the back, both with flashers on. 

"Man, that was really cool," Hargis said. "It's pretty neat how people come together." 

Hargis honked and waved as the convoy passed him on the highway, and the drivers waved back.

"I wanted to go also," Hargis said. 

A learning experience 

MU's meteorology club is also keeping an eye on Sandy. Brett Williams, an MU student and member of the meteorology club, said Sandy has provided him with opportunities to learn more about hurricanes. 

"Hurricane Sandy these past few days has made me want to learn more about tropical meteorology," Williams said. 

Williams said his professors have used the hurricane as a chance to teach more about how storm systems work. 

"It's good to hear because our professors are knowledgeable on the subject," Williams said. "We just don't have a class."

Katie Crandall, a fellow club member, said the storm is unlike a typical hurricane. 

"It's a different type of storm system," Crandall said. "It's similar to the Perfect Storm in 1991." 

The "Perfect Storm" Crandall is referring to is a 1991 storm that absorbed Hurricane Grace and slammed into the northeastern United States. According to the National Climatic Data Center's website, the storm caused more than $200 million in damage.

Crandall said the meteorology club has been compiling its own data and analysis along with following information from the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Hurricane Center and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. 

Crandall said the data she's seen show the storm system is massive.

"With the system, it's so large and very widespread," Crandall said. "It could end up being very costly." 

Remembering past storms

Columbia residents Theresa Chapman, 69, and Cecelia Davis, 63, played the card game Hand and Foot at the Columbia Area Senior Center on Tuesday afternoon. 

Chapman grew up in Hackettstown, N.J., and has a sister-in-law living in Nutley, N.J., which is 15 miles from Manhattan. Chapman left a message on her sister-in-law's answering machine Monday and is waiting to hear back from her. 

"I'm just praying for my family out there," Chapman said. 

Davis remembered sitting through hurricanes as a child in her home in Houston. 

"You could hear those winds howling. You knew they were really strong," Davis said. "The day after, you hear a lot of chainsaws." 

Davis thinks hurricanes have changed since her childhood experiences. 

"It just seems like they are stronger now," Davis said. "This is pretty late in the season for a hurricane ... all I can say is with a hot summer and a late hurricane, we're going to have a big snow storm this winter. I'm just going to close my doors, turn up my heat and say 'Let it snow!'"

Columbia resident Sandy Schubert has received a number of emails from friends teasing her about how she shares her name with this destructive storm. 

"It's the funniest feeling hearing people say 'Sandy this' and 'Sandy that,'" Schubert said. 

Missourian reporters Arthur Cook Bremer, Grant Hahn, Hank Koebler, Allison Prang, Chris Long and Lindsey Miller contributed to this report.

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