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NYC natives see home after Sandy

By Joel Jellison

It began with high wind and heavy rain, and then shifted to flooding, power outages and even fires.

On Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy, then downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, hit the shores of New York and New Jersey hard, causing damage across New York City. The East River flooded into Lower Manhattan, leaving sections of the Subway full of water. The high winds and debris broke windows out of the high buildings across the city.

Imagine being a New York native, but attending a college more than 1,000 miles away, not having anything but the news to tell you what’s happening.

That was reality for Kansas State men’s basketball players Jordan Henriquez, Shane Southwell and Omari Lawrence.

On Wednesday, less than a month after the storm, all three will be back in New York for the first time since for the Wildcats semi-final game against Delaware in the NIT Season Tip-Off. They will play the winner or loser of Michigan and Pittsburgh on Friday.

Southwell, who came to K-State from Harlem, N.Y., said he wants to see how his own area was affected.

“I want to see if where I’m from is still looking the same,” he said. “I know they had a little bit of damage, hopefully it’s not too bad. I just want to send all my condolences out to those who were hurt by Sandy.”

Henriquez, who is from Port Chester N.Y., but has family in the Queens borough of New York City, said he knows the damage will be noticeable.

“Knowing that it’s not going to be in great shape, just knowing how much people were hurt by it, and my family that lost power, by us coming out and being able to entertain them, I know it will help lift some spirits,” he said. “I was worried, but I know my family will stay strong.”

Lawrence said his family, which mostly lives in the Bronx, wasn’t too affected past some flooding. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t worried when all he could do was sit and watch.

“It was an extreme worry, I just didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “All I’ve seen is CNN pictures and stuff like that. When I get down there I want to sightsee and look at all the streets that got messed up and just see the scenery.”

New York is moving on from the storm now, rebuilding the areas that need it.

But even after the storm passed, there were concerns for each of them with varying reports coming out on TV and across the Internet.

One particular concern for Southwell and Henriquez, was the reports of sharks in New Jersey. Those reports, and the pictures that came with them, have since been indentified as a hoax.

“I got extremely worried when I heard there were Sharks in New Jersey because that’s not too far from me, maybe 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “I called my mother probably five times a day to see how she was doing, called my sisters a few times and a couple other people I knew that was close to me. They’re all OK. A couple of their cars were damaged, they said their cars were floating, but everyone was OK.”

It was such a concern for Henriquez that he hoped the team wouldn’t be flying into Newark Liberty International Airport.

“I was hoping we weren’t going to fly in to Newark because LaGuardia was full, I didn’t know if there were going to be sharks in New Jersey, floating around on the highway or something like that.”

It will be a special time for the players to be going home, as there time in New York will allow them to see family during Thanksgiving.

Throughout it all, all the destruction and uncertainty, Lawrence hopes they can still give their teammates the New York experience. And he hopes he can show them his family experience too.

“It’s just a special feeling, just to see my family, especially Thanksgiving,” he said. “I go home and get a good meal, take some of my teammates home, they can share a meal, see the family lifestyle that we live and just experience New York as a whole.”

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