“Panic mode has hit here. Every school and college is shutting down. Mass amount of buses being dispatched out,” were the words of one school bus contractor in upstate New York as Hurricane Sandy began to worsen late Monday.
Joe Ingraham, owner of Parlor City Transportation in Binghamton, N.Y., posted this on the New York Association for Pupil Transportation’s Facebook page.
“Eye of the storm is going to go right over us. Bus service is shutting down and hasn't been decided when it will start up. The depot for the city transit is in a flood zone,” Ingraham stated.
In the Atlantic and Northeast, schools were closed, businesses shuttered and mass transit, as well as school transportation, suspended on Monday. The Red Cross has estimated that Hurricane Sandy could impact as many as 60 million people. Forecasters predict the hurricane-force winds will hit coastal towns from Virginia to Massachusetts Monday afternoon, lasting well into the night.
In Delaware, some oceanfront roads in Rehoboth Beach were underwater, and in Maryland, the normally calm Sligo Creek in Takoma Park turned into a “torrent.” In Ocean City, Md., the boardwalk pier was “significantly damaged” overnight, said Mike Levy, a police spokesman.
At 3 p.m. Eastern, more than a half-million people were without power in Virginia, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and several other states.
The Boston Public Schools website stated that its schools would be closed Monday and parents could bring their children to the Boston Centers for Youth & Families’ Tobin Community Center Monday until 6 p.m. The Maryland DOE announced on Facebook that numerous school systems would be closed Monday because of the hurricane and provided this link to help parents find updates about their local school system.
NYAPT Executive Director Peter Mannella told School Transportation News he had received an email from Alexandra Robinson, executive director of pupil transportation for the New York City DOE and NAPT's president, stating that she was “running evacuation operations. This confirmed an earlier report by The New York Times that school buses were used in evacuating Manhattan. At press time, STN was awaiting a response from the New York City DOE.
Mannella said all New York City and Long Island public schools would be closed both Monday and Tuesday. He noted that he hadn’t heard of any plans to move school buses off either island, adding that there was “nowhere to put them.”
“They are expecting the storm surge to push water back up through the Hudson, as far north as Hudson and Poughkeepsie. They could see some water 95 to 100 miles from the city. In Western New York, rain is coming down sideways,” said Mannella.
“The storm is widespread, and this is going to last well into tomorrow afternoon, at pretty much full strength … I just heard that 45,000 people in Manhattan are already without power — and we haven’t even gotten to the bulk of the storm."