Storm impacts students at USC from afar

As the superstorm Sandy continues to wreak havoc along the East Coast, USC students also felt the impacts of the physical destruction.

The storm, which reached New Jersey on Monday and has since enveloped much of the East Coast, has some USC students concerned for the safety of their family and friends.

At least 45 people have died because of the storm, including former USC Song Girl Claudene Christian, who died after a ship she was aboard sank in the hurricane. The coaches of the USC Song Girls released a statement Monday expressing their condolences.

Most of the deaths occurred from the damage caused by the storm, such as falling trees or electrocution caused by stepping in puddles near fallen power lines.

Worries about safety prompted the university to send emails out to students whose permanent addresses are in affected zip codes.

“This can be traumatic for students and we wanted to let you know that we are concerned about your well-being and the safety of your families,” wrote Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean for Student Affairs.

Zion Samuel, a freshman majoring in biochemistry whose family lives in Maryland, said he was worried about their safety, but that many East Coast families are used to big storms.

“My dad went and bought the supplies we usually get for hurricanes, like water,” Samuel said.

A representative from USC’s Counseling Center said that students can schedule an appointment if they want to talk about their concerns. If they have pressing worries, students can walk in for a crisis appointment.

Though weaker than it was just 24 hours ago, Sandy has left destruction from Georgia to Maine. Floods, power outages and 65-mile-per-hour winds continue to cause disorder on the East Coast.

As of Tuesday night, 6 million people were without electricity, and many major subways and airports were still shut down. Sandy is the most widespread destructive storm in recent history, and in some places, schools are not expected to open for at least a few more days.

State governments are struggling to counter the effects of the storm, which is interfering greatly with everyday life. Despite the severity of the storm, however, many students on the East Coast do not seem exceedingly concerned about the safety of their homes.

“My parents are worried about losing power,” said Sophia Geanacopoulos, a freshman studying international relations global business. Geanacopoulos also said, however, she is not overly concerned for her family in Boston. “My mom is always prepared for these storms.”

Social media is playing an unprecedented role in the crisis, with many East Coast residents relying on Twitter and Facebook for information about the storm. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom reported that 10 pictures are being posted each second with the hashtag “Sandy.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also urged people to communicate with loved ones using social media, as phone lines often get clogged during disasters.