POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Amidst today’s heated political climate lies a more tumultuous, literal climate. The coinciding of several hurricanes- Harvey and Irma- has left a wake of devastation, displacing tens of thousands in the greater Texas and Florida areas.
“My grandma lives in Corpus [Christi], but she moved to Mexico while all of this was happening,” said Sarah Santiago. “The only things she lost were stock pictures she had of my grandpa.”
A junior studying criminal justice at Marist College, Santiago is originally a native of Austin, Texas. Now situated on the East Coast, all she can do is try her best to stay in touch with friends and family who were in the path of Harvey.
“I know my friend’s mom’s house got flooded,” she said. “[Another] goes to the the [University of Texas- Houston] and she just started an internship at the hospital by her school to help out those affected.”
In the aftermath of these series of storms- Irma proceeding Harvey in Florida with Hurricane Jose right behind it- victims of past natural disasters empathize with those devastated today. While celebrities, organizations and major brand retailers provide monetary contributions to relief efforts, volunteer groups such as Louisiana’s Cajun Navy have put boots on the ground, traveling all the way to Houston to lend a helping hand.
A significant amount of Marist students resides from the Tri-State area, which includes New Jersey and Connecticut. For Jersey residents, recent events have caused memories from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to resurface.
Although the public’s reaction to both Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey are similar, there was a vast difference in the perception of threats brought by the storms.
“[The Texans] didn’t even take it seriously,” said Santiago. “My friend posted on Snapchat…a picture of her house saying ‘Where’s Harvey?’”
“For us, it was in the weather, we predicted [Sandy],” said Becce, a Communications major in his junior year at Marist. “So people destroyed the super markets…people were buying out generators.”
“The Texans just weren’t ready, we were like ‘yeah, we’re currently in a drought,’” Santiago responded.
“In Jersey, we’re used to [this weather], like in a snowstorm you stock up,” Becce said.
While President Donald Trump flew out to Houston two weeks ago and allocated a $1 million donation to relief efforts, this administration’s reaction pales in comparison to the funding passed following Hurricane Sandy. New Jerseyians took particular pride in this.
“Restore the Shore was on everyone’s license plate,” said Becce, referencing a New Jersey charity who aided in repairing seaside towns. “I don’t like Christie, but he did go all in to restore the Jersey Shore.”
Going to school on the other side of the country and last having been home only for Christmas of last year, Santiago can only try and gauge the feeling of her fellow Texans.
“I haven’t been [home] in a while, but everyone I know kinda [dislikes] Trump,” she said. “The hurricane is such a big thing…I saw on the news Trump was trying to re-ignite things over [criticism of his reaction to] Charlottesville [while all] these hurricanes are happening”
“You have to keep in mind there’s only so much the government can do,” Becce said, bringing up actress Sandra Bullock and boxer Floyd Mayweather’s considerable donations to Harvey victims, the latter proven to be fake news.
When asked what the first thing they would grab in a time of emergency, Santiago responded with her laptop and Becce prioritized his dog.
“I’ll be damned if I’m leaving Gabe behind.”