Students affected by hurricane return to campus

| Staff Reporter

Hurricane Irene hit the northeastern coastline early Sunday morning, forcing many students coming to Washington University to change their travel plans.

Airport closings in cities such as Boston, Providence, New York and Philadelphia resulted in more than 11,000 cancelled flights, according to the Associated Press.

To avoid the hurricane-related travel delays, a large number of students returned to the University early, said Shruti Desai, associate director of the Office of Residential Life.

“We had a lot of phone calls about kids trying to move in early,” Desai said. “More came earlier than later.”

To accommodate those needing special arrangements, ResLife waived early move-in fees for students affected by the storm. Students normally have to pay $50 per night they stay in their dorm prior to official move-in.

“We tried to work with students the best that we could,” Desai said. “We work with students on a case-by-case basis, so we just made that decision as we got the students.”

Other students, unable to find earlier flights, arrived on campus several days after their intended arrivals.

“I was supposed to leave on Saturday morning early [from Newark] but my flight was canceled as of Friday afternoon, and they canceled all of the flights coming out for the whole weekend,” senior Catie Gainor said.

Gainor called the airlines and changed her flight to Monday. Her flight was one of the only few not cancelled on Monday.

“It would have been nice to get here earlier, but overall it’s not that bad,” Gainor said.

Students’ commutes back to school were also affected by alternative transportation failures. Amtrak and Greyhound canceled many of their Sunday routes throughout the northeast. Numerous roads were flooded and impassable.

Parents traveling back with their children found that the storm had an effect on their ability to return home.

Senior Lauren Karp and her mother had to reroute their two-day drive from New York due to the storm. Karp’s mom had to fly back home the day they arrived.

“She was supposed to stay an extra day in St. Louis and she was supposed to help me unpack a little bit and get settled, but [because of the storm] she couldn’t,” Karp said.

Other parents who stayed in St. Louis during freshman orientation programs were forced to make their stays longer than planned.

Irene, which was at one point categorized as a Category 3 storm, passed through North Carolina and Virginia as a Category 1 storm and was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved up the east coast. It killed dozens of people, destroyed power lines and buildings and caused massive flooding in multiple states.

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