October 29, 2012

Collegetown Residents Prepare for Wrath of Hurricane Sandy

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Several Collegetown businesses and thousands of Ithaca residents suffered power outages Monday afternoon as landlords warned their tenants to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Many stores on College Avenue — including Collegetown Bagels, Stella’s and 7-Eleven— lost power Monday afternoon. Shortly after midnight, however, electricity appeared to still be running for most, with only two of more than 40,000 New York State Electric and Gas customers experiencing outages, according to NYSEG’s website.

Henry Wells ’14 witnessed what looked like a power line exploding as he went on a run through Collegetown Monday evening.

“I was running down near the intersection of Maple Avenue and Dryden Avenue and there was a brief yellow flash and a loud bang [from a power line box],” he said.

Meanwhile, Collegetown landlords also took measures to ensure the safety of their tenants. Although he did not send any “special alerts,” Nick Lambrou, a landlord at Lambrou Real Estate, said he encouraged students to take precautions during the storm.

“We rely on the Tompkins County’s announcements and the local government’s measures …  though we are also encouraging tenants to make sure that their windows are tightly shut,” he said.

Cheryl Beach, a realtor at Avramis Real Estate, said she checked on houses over the weekend before the storm was set to hit Ithaca.

“We checked stuff over the weekend and made sure that everything was in working order,” she said. “We have also taken care of garbage so that everything is not flying around.”

Lambrou added that he also checked for potential sources of water leakage into buildings.

“We have a couple of buildings that have emergency smoke hatches up on the roof,” he said. “Our primary measure was to make sure that these smoke hatches were sealed. We don’t want them to pop open and the water to come pouring in.”

High speed winds, however, remained the primary concern for most landlords.

“What concerns me about this storm is not even the water but the wind,” Lambrou said. “The wind will cause power outages. The buildings are strong, but the power outages can be a problem.”

In an email, Pam Johnston Apartments warned tenants not to use their stoves if their houses lose power. They also said that if a houses loses power, staff would come by to shut off all gas appliances.

Mayda Dorak ’13, who lives on College Avenue, said she is also concerned about losing power due to the storm. She has shut all her windows in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

“The wind might cause trees [to] fall, but there is not much that I can do about that,” she said.

Alex Cheng ’15, a resident of Dryden Road, said he was concerned about possible power outages.

“I think it’s going to be pretty bad. I came back from classes and witnessed a power outage on the block from [Collegetown Bagels] to Stella’s,” he said. “Everything is down right there. I expect that it will happen to my apartment sometime soon.”

Most say the worst of the storm is yet to come.

“I have stocked up on toilet paper and frozen food,” he said. “We have just had a taste of what the hurricane is going to be like. We are yet to see the real Sandy.”

Though Ithaca has “made it through major snowstorms” and “24 hours of snow” in the past, Lambrou said that the approaching Hurricane Sandy poses a unique threat to the city.

“It’s powerful and now it’s coming here,” he said. “We have never had such a situation before. I have never faced such a situation before.”

Original Author: Manu Rathore