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Students find alternatives on campus during storm

  • Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts student Steve Doerfler talks with Gazette reporter in the entrance to Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts student Steve Doerfler talks with Gazette reporter in the entrance to Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sandbags protect the doorways on the east entrance to the Lincoln Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday. The site was a problem during Hurricane Irene last year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Sandbags protect the doorways on the east entrance to the Lincoln Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday. The site was a problem during Hurricane Irene last year.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Workers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst physical plant remove "Fall Open House" banners along Massachusetts Ave. in a stiff wind Monday afternoon.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Workers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst physical plant remove "Fall Open House" banners along Massachusetts Ave. in a stiff wind Monday afternoon.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Van Sullivan, retail operations manager at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, talks to Gazette reporter about the lessons learned from last year's storms that have guided preparations for Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Van Sullivan, retail operations manager at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, talks to Gazette reporter about the lessons learned from last year's storms that have guided preparations for Hurricane Sandy.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Strong winds have uprooted mums from the planters outside the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts and strew them on the otherwise deserted sidewalks of the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Strong winds have uprooted mums from the planters outside the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts and strew them on the otherwise deserted sidewalks of the Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst students Kellen Muldoon, left, and Brendan Rigby talk about their plans for the day at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts Amherst students Kellen Muldoon, left, and Brendan Rigby talk about their plans for the day at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center on Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst juniors Elizabeth Rudix, left, and Rachel Carlson meet for lunch at the normally busy Blue Wall in the Campus Center Amherst Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts Amherst juniors Elizabeth Rudix, left, and Rachel Carlson meet for lunch at the normally busy Blue Wall in the Campus Center Amherst Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kieu Vuong prepares some chinese cabbage at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Kieu Vuong prepares some chinese cabbage at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts student Steve Doerfler talks with Gazette reporter in the entrance to Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sign at Patterson dorm in the Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sandbags protect the doorways on the east entrance to the Lincoln Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday. The site was a problem during Hurricane Irene last year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Workers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst physical plant remove "Fall Open House" banners along Massachusetts Ave. in a stiff wind Monday afternoon.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Van Sullivan, retail operations manager at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, talks to Gazette reporter about the lessons learned from last year's storms that have guided preparations for Hurricane Sandy.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Strong winds have uprooted mums from the planters outside the W.E.B. Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts and strew them on the otherwise deserted sidewalks of the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst students Kellen Muldoon, left, and Brendan Rigby talk about their plans for the day at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst juniors Elizabeth Rudix, left, and Rachel Carlson meet for lunch at the normally busy Blue Wall in the Campus Center Amherst Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Kieu Vuong prepares some chinese cabbage at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts first-years Andrew Kisch, left, Andrea Natalie and Gina DeStefano have lunch in the Berkshire Dining Commons on the Amherst campus Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Smith College student Pia Furken said the arrival of Hurricane Sandy made her “feel nervous and excited at the same time.” A first-year student interviewed on campus Monday morning, Furken said she had plenty of non-perishable food ready, all her electronics charging, and flashlights out — just in case.

At the University of Massachusetts, students Brendan Rigby and Kellen Muldoon had brewed six gallons of beer and were planning to invite friends over.

Amherst College student Erik Christianson said he had an economics midterm due Tuesday, but he got an extension because his professor was stranded at a conference.

And at Hampshire College, student Emily Waters said she was planning to go into Amherst but decided the storm was too scary, so she stayed put.

For students all over Hampshire County, Monday was like a grade-school snow day, except that they were stranded at school with all their friends. The campuses were eerily deserted as the winds picked up in early afternoon, and students hunkered down in their dorm rooms and dining halls. Some said they planned to catch up on their schoolwork, while others said they were going to watch movies. Most seemed thrilled at the prospect of an academic respite and hoped the holiday would extend to today.

As the leaves swirled around the UMass campus Monday afternoon, the few students outside pulled hoods over their heads. One student lost her Red Sox cap in a gust of wind and had to go running after it. Planters near the DuBois Library had been knocked over by the wind, and the stoplights at the corner of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenue were on the blink.

Inside Hampshire Dining Commons, sophomore Maxence Delta said he was happy classes were canceled because he was a little behind in his work. “It feels great to be able to catch up and be ahead of your classmates,” he said. “I’ll get some sleep, watch some TV if I can.”

Reza Saboury, a senior, said he slept in and planned to study Monday afternoon. “Hopefully, they’ll make the same decision tomorrow,” he said.

“Laundry and homework — that’s about it,” said freshman Andrew Kissh. Senior Hantz Alvarez said of the storm, ”I’m free!”

Sophomore Steve Doerfler said he was planning to watch the movie of “Lord of the Rings” Monday afternoon. He said he was banking on UMass canceling classes today.

The UMass Campus Center, which served as shelter during the snowstorm a year ago, was quiet at midday Monday, but there were plans for a repeat performance.

Van Sullivan, the assistant manager of retail dining, said the Campus Center learned some valuable lessons a year ago and has ordered a lot of food. “Last year, we cooked everything that moved,” he said.

He said he had lined up six people to stay working after their shifts were done Monday afternoon, and planned to call in extra people. Most days, he sends a small mobile truck outside to provide lunches for the 300 construction workers on campus, but Monday he decided it wouldn’t withstand the wind, he said.

Jim Weidman, an elevator technician, was eating lunch at the Blue Wall. He said he’d been asked to stay on call Monday night in case there was a power outage or someone got trapped in an elevator, but he doesn’t mind because he has a room in the Campus Center hotel and will get paid overtime, he said.

“This is unexpected time,” said freshman Andrea Natalie. “I’ll be writing an essay and going on Netflix.”

A pleasant surprise

At Smith College Monday, students nervously anticipated the much-heralded arrival of Sandy. Classes were canceled, dining halls closed early. And then it was hurry up and wait. The college had sent repetitive warnings to students about the possibility of a power outage. Students took heed.

“It was relieving and awesome,” Gabriela Caballero, a Smith College senior, said of receiving the news Sunday night that the college would be closed Monday. “A pleasant surprise.”

While dining halls were open for breakfast and lunch Monday, they were closed for Monday dinner and Tuesday breakfast.

Students weren’t left to entirely fend for themselves, however. Along with Monday’s standard hot lunch, the dining halls put out plenty of food for students to brown-bag for their next few meals, including the makings for sandwiches, bottled juice, granola bars, fruit and bagels.

“I appreciate that they canceled school, not just on a selfish note. It keeps all of the personnel off the streets and at home — even if bag lunch isn’t preferable,” said Caballero.

Ilse Barron, the chef at one of Smith’s larger dining halls, said Dining Services is hoping to reopen early enough today to serve a continental breakfast later in the morning, “but it all depends on what the storm does,” she said.

Several of Smith’s residential houses aren’t connected to backup generators. In the case of a power loss, students in these houses will experience a mandatory evacuation, and they’ll be instructed to relocate — either to a friend’s dorm or to the Campus Center on Elm Street, where emergency cots are already being set up.

Students had mixed feelings about the prospect of evacuation. For some, it brought back memories of the chaos that ensued during last year’s October “Snowpocalypse” storm, when power was out for two nights, and several of these houses were evacuated.

Furken said she thinks the college is probably better prepared to deal with the situation this second time around. Nonetheless, she said, “I don’t want to get evacuated at all.”

But Rebecca Davidson, another first-year student, felt differently. “In a weird way, I’m kind of looking forward to the possibility,” she said, of camping out with her fellow housemates. Entertainment without electricity also has the potential to be more fun, she added.

Meanwhile, as dark clouds hang overhead, Caballero said she planned “to just sit around and watch the storm.”

Amherst, Hampshire hunkers down

Amherst College encouraged students to stay in their dormitories Monday because of the high winds, said Peter Rooney, director of public information. The college moved a generator to Valentine Hall, the main dining area, and topped off the fuel in maintenance vehicles, he said.

“We encouraged students to come to Valentine for a hearty breakfast and pick up food to take back to their dorm rooms,” he said.

Several students eating lunch at Valentine said Amherst didn’t announce that classes were canceled until Monday morning, later than the other local campuses. “They wanted to make sure we did our work,” said student Lacie Goldberg. She joked about having a “post-apocalypse party” Tuesday.

Jeehae Kim-Goddart said she was thrilled because she’d never seen a hurricane before.

“I want to film things for my film class, use the raw material of life and incorporate it into my work,” she said. “It’s devastation, so we might as well make the best of it while we’re here.”

Senior Dash King said that even though the wind and rain didn’t seem too bad, it made sense for Amherst to cancel classes. “Branches have fallen from trees in calmer weather than this,” he said. “I’d rather go with a safe decision than have someone get hit by a branch.” He said he planned to “do homework and relax a bit” Monday.

Javier Chavez graduated from Amherst College last spring and is now a teaching assistant. He said he planned to watch “The King and I” and “My Fair Lady” Monday.

“I haven’t had time to watch a film in months,” he said. “Today’s the day. I can take some time to myself and indulge.”

At a deserted Hampshire campus Monday afternoon, Rachel Skorupka, a third-year student, was waiting at a bus shelter even though bus service had been suspended. She lives in Northampton and had come to campus for an appointment that was canceled, and was trying to get home.

Third year student Christian Matesand was also at the bus shelter, and said he came there to tell people that the buses had stopped running.

“I wanted to wander,” he said. “I’ve lived in Florida, so I know hurricanes. So I took it as an excuse to go out and look at the wind.”

Fourth-year students Sam Congdon, Sam Rosenblum and Emily Waters were taking a cigarette break outside the Johnson Library Monday afternoon. As a gust swooped in, Congon said, “Come on, baby, let’s take it up a few notches!”

“I’m from San Francisco, and we know how to do earthquakes, but I’m not sure what to do in this situation,” he said. “I’m mostly feeling nervous and looking outside to see what’s happening.”

Rosenblum lives off campus in Amherst, and stayed on campus Sunday in case the power went off. “I didn’t want to be alone and stuck,” he said.

Waters comes from New Jersey and said she had just called her parents and found their power was still on. “My girlfriend is from Florida, so she’s calling me a baby about all this,” she said.

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