App Loft clears out, Mountaineers stay calm as Sandy rages

Anne Buie

On Sunday morning before then-Hurricane Sandy hit, there were 18 people staying in the App Loft in Manhattan, New York.

By Sunday night, there were only two people left – Howard Gisking, the fall faculty director for the loft and his wife.

“It’s lucky they got out,” Gisking said. “It would have been difficult to have 18 people here, especially with no electricity and no water. It would have been a really big, big problem.”

The loft lost electricity and water, but Gisking said he and his wife had enough supplies to last five to six days.

But despite the lack of electricity and water in the neighborhood, Gisking said the overall atmosphere was “calm, peaceful and friendly.”

“One thing I noticed is that New Yorkers, probably because of 9/11 and having gone though that, is that people seem to be very calm,” he said. “We were on the street for an hour and a half walk. There’s no electricity, the subways and busses aren’t running. No mass transit or anything like that. No street lights. But people seem to be going about their business.”

And as for Gisking, he said he was staying positive despite the situation.

“We have the opportunity to make the best of a situation without electricity, or internet or television,” he said. “No distractions or restaurants open around here…we’re realizing this is probably what is was like before the days of electricity.”

Gisking and his wife were not the only people who lost power. The New York Times reported 2.3 million people were out of power in New York, Tuesday afternoon.

Luckily for junior music industries studies major Conor McClure, that number didn’t include his sister, who currently resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Since she didn’t lose power, she was able to post Facebook statuses and tweets, which helped McClure stay in contact with her.

“The ability to basically live-tweet the inside these disasters really helps with news and staying up to date, but also communicate and whatnot as well,” McClure said. “It was cool seeing her update frequently with a first-hand experience of it all.”

Although, McClure said he was confident his sister would be fine, he was reassured by her constant updates.

“She tweeted this morning, I think saying, ‘Nothing really looks different except for a tree or two,’ McClure said. “She’s described it as, ‘Basically fine, just rainy.'”

Her reaction to the storm seems to be a common one.

Appalachian alumnus Tyler Thomas currently lives in Bushwick, New York.

Similarly, Thomas said the general mood of his area was calm, and could almost be considered relaxed.

“I saw my neighbors out talking to each other cleaning things up, the kids had the day off from school so they played outside a little while,” Thomas said.

 “It was actually kind of a nice change of pace. After moving straight from Boone to New York City, I think people move too fast up here and don’t relax enough, I’m still kind of getting acclimated to the pace. Mayor Bloomberg told people in a press conference Sunday night to take advantage of the situation and catch up on some sleep, and I think a lot of people did.”

But despite the current calm conditions, Thomas did not fool around with the Sunday’s impeding storm.

“When I read an article that compared Sandy to the storm in the movie “The Perfect Storm,” but worse, I knew it was serious,” he said. “I saw that movie. It was a really bad storm. George Clooney and Mark Wahlburg even had a hard time riding it out and I’m no George Clooney nor Mark Walhburg. 
The point is: I kept my ass safely inside.”

Thomas said he had been impressed with the way people were handing the storm.

“We know the damage that was dealt and we’re going to deal with it as we can get to it,” he said. “People are already overwhelming NY volunteer services to help clean up…folks keep up that kind of attitude, we’ll all be fine a lot sooner than we expected. This place is resilient. I’m optimistic.”

Story: ANNE BUIE, Managing Editor