Post-Sandy, Seminary Returns to Normal Schedule of Classes and Services
28 October–12 November • On–Campus • Virginia Nieuwsma
The seminary community began a slow recovery from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as lights and heat were finally restored, and as work, class, and chapel schedules normalized. There was a "reverse exodus" of students and families, as they returned to their dwellings. Staff resumed work on Monday, November 6. Three Hierarchs Chapel Ecclesiarch The Rev. Dr. Alexander Rentel announced that the full cycle of services would commence on Saturday, November 10, with Great Vespers at 6:30 p.m. Regularly scheduled classes resumed on Monday, November 12. The reanimation of campus life followed two weeks of dark, cold nights, and scrambling for resources, as the seminary community pulled together to cope with what has been termed as "Frankenstorm Sandy."
On Monday evening, October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast. Sustained winds of 70-90 miles per hour, rain, and a devastating storm surge left millions of Americans without power, including the community of faculty, staff, and students at St. Vladimir's Seminary.
Although the campus suffered only minor damage—two downed trees on the property—some residents went without electricity and heat until Monday evening, November 5, when Con Edison of New York restored power in the final section of campus remaining in the dark, the north end. During the weeks without power, The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO, encouraged community members to travel off campus to stay with friends or family members, since dropping temperatures and perishing food sources made life difficult, particularly for families with small children. Classes were initially cancelled for the week of October 29-November 2, and then were cancelled again for the following week of November 5-9, as the extent of the disruption due to Sandy's effects became more apparent.
In this second week post-Sandy, on Wednesday, November 7, Nor'easter Athena arrived on the battered east coast. The Seminary community again was battered with more high winds, coastal flooding, and snow, while still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
Throughout the challenging two weeks of difficult weather, the St. Vladimir's community found ways to cope and help one another. On Thursday, November 1, several barbecue chefs fired up the grill behind the Germack building so that people could cook and share their defrosted meat. After the meal, the front campus lawn because the site of a spirited soccer game, with players steering clear of a huge downed tree with exposed roots lying across the field.
In the meantime, the neighboring parish of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in New Rochelle, with the blessing and encouragement of the priest, The Very Rev. Nicholas Anctil, made their extensive facilities available to St. Vladimir's families. People could use the parish's hot–water showers, go online via the parish's Internet service, and access the warmth and light available at Holy Trinity during the evening hours. Mother Raphaela of Holy Myrrhbearer's Monastery in Otego, New York, also offered shelter and hospitality to families in need of a place to weather the storm's aftermath.
Alumni offered support and encouragement as well. Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, director of Admissions and Alumni Relations, wrote to alumni: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the alumni who have written to offer their support and prayers for our students, faculty, and staff. I would like to make special mention of St. Joseph Church (OCA) in Wheaton, Illinois, who took a collection this past Sunday for our seminarians and raised over one thousand dollars which will be used to provide a festive community dinner this week. Thanks also to The Very Rev. Alexis Vinogradov, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, who provided the seminary a generator so that food and other goods in the Germack kitchen would not spoil."
His Eminence The Most Rev. Nathaniel, archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate and locum tenens of the Metropolitan See of the Orthodox Church in America, wrote words of encouragement: "In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I am writing to thank and encourage you and your families for your service and sacrifices for Christ and the Church. I understand that most of you are without power and heat, that phone and Internet connections are only intermittent, and that this may continue for days to come. Many of you have children to care for in these trying circumstances....This is a trial, but also a rare opportunity for you to help, comfort and encourage each other. No doubt it will give you many occasions to bear one another's burdens and be forbearing and good humored."