UB students affected by Northeast Winter Storm Jonas

Students face difficulties in returning to Buffalo due to winter storm


Winter Storm Jonas covered the Northeast in a snow blanket this past weekend, leaving many students stranded outside of Buffalo and concerned about not getting to campus in time for the start of the semester.

The winter storm, which hit the East Coast on Saturday, left at least 48 people dead and a quarter of a million people without power, according to The Weather Channel. Roofs have collapsed and some places, like a rural area of West Virginia, were hit with 40 inches of snow.

Less severe issues, such as heavy traffic on highways and delayed flights made it difficult for a number of UB students to get back to campus this past weekend.

A. Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic Affairs, sent out an email to students and faculty regarding the storm.

Weber warned professors that many students were having a difficult time getting back to campus and encouraged them to make accommodations for students who may need assistance in making up work or rescheduling appointments.

“As you know, there have been regional travel bans in many areas and considerable disruption to the transportation services that are seriously impeding efforts to arrive in Buffalo in time for today’s first day of classes and other obligations,” Weber said in an email.

In preparation for the winter weather, Campus Living allowed students to move in on Jan. 22 instead of the original move in date of Jan. 24 with no additional charge.

“The safety of our students is our primary concern,” said Andrea Costantino, director of Campus Living. “Our goal is to accommodate those students and their families who were impacted by a sudden change in travel plans due to severe weather conditions.”

According to a university spokesperson, “the University at Buffalo’s top priority is to ensure that accommodations are made for students whose plans to travel back to campus from winter break have been affected by severe weather in the Eastern United States.”

While some students are stuck in the snow, others were stuck on the beach waiting for a flight home.

Erin Belile, a junior health and human services major, was in Costa Rica for an alternative break trip for the winter session. Belile, seven other students and two staff members didn’t arrive back in Buffalo until Monday night after arrived being stranded in Florida to catch a connecting flight on Saturday.

“There was a mix up [Saturday] with our flight from San José, Costa Rica to Orlando,” Belile said in an email. “We missed our connecting flight to Buffalo which stranded us in Orlando due to the size of our group and the full flight on Sunday night.”

Belile later found out the group’s original two flights were canceled due to Winter Storm Jonas. She said the two staff members with them in Florida contacted UB to notify the students’ academic advisers and professors of their late arrival.

Belile said she and other students were concerned about missing the first day because the majority of the group members were seniors and some students had jobs they were unable to get to in time.

“Regardless of the email, we feel somewhat embarrassed because of the bad first impression,” Belile said.

Yixiong Peng, a freshman business major, is stuck in Qingdao, China and has yet to return to Buffalo due to the snowstorm. He plans to return on Jan. 27.

Peng notified his professors of his late arrival, but is unable to check if they responded since all Google services are blocked in China.

Weber urges all students to use caution as they return to Buffalo through the storm and notify their professors or other UB faculty of their delay. If students are having problems obtaining accommodations, they should contact Weber directly.

Marlee Tuskes contributed reporting to this piece.

Gabriela Julia is a managing editor and can be reached at gabriela.julia@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @gabrielaajulia.