(MENAFN - Arab News) When Hurricane Sandy hit the United States in late October, many Saudi students living in the Northeastern region took precautionary measures and stayed at home.
Thankfully, there were no reports of severe damages or injuries sustained by Saudi students.
More than 18,000 Saudi students are studying in the East Coast, while the total number of Saudi students in the US is around 92,000. "More than 40,000 Saudi students were moved from areas that were likely to be hit by the storm. They are now in hotels in safe locations," said Cultural Attach at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Muhammad Al-Eisa, to Arab News on Wednesday.
Sandy was exactly like a thunderstorm without the thunder in Tampa, Florida, according to Mohammad Saati, a 26-year-old business student. "My wife and I did not leave the house for two days straight, everything was fine after that. My apartment had a backup generator so the electricity was working the whole time," he said. "Some of my friends though, had to stay home with no electricity, but no one was harmed," he added.
The Saudi Embassy and the Cultural Attach in the US sent an e-mail to all the students, updating them about the weather conditions and asking them to exercise caution and not leave their homes. They also provided them with exclusive emergency numbers, as well as numbers of embassy employees working around the clock.
Majed Khaled, a student, said Washington D.C. wasn't hit as hard as the other cities on the East Coast. "The electricity is still off and has been like that for while now, telephone lines are working but intermittently, but I was luckily able to speak to my family and tell them I'm OK," he said. "School is still off and not many restaurants and supermarkets are operating, but there is a small pharmacy close by to my apartment that is working and I managed to get some food supplies from it," he added.
Yasmine Jalal, 22-year-old student in New Jersey, took a road trip along with her family to Washington D.C. to run away from Sandy. "After receiving the e-mail from the Saudi Embassy my father decided to take us to D.C. to stay with my brother, knowing it would be safer for us there," she said. "It was a long drive and we were terrified of the impending storm. People were driving in a crazy manner and exceeding the speed limit, fortunately we managed to get to my brother's house safely," she said.
The attach sent messages to all the Saudi students in the regions hit by the hurricane, cautioning them to move into safer areas and hotels if necessary, at the Saudi Embassy's expense. "I contacted our embassy in Washington but they told me it was safer for me to stay at home and follow the instructions issued by our local government, and contact them if any changes occurred," said MBA student Siraj AL- Qahtani in Virginia. "It was a great comfort knowing that the embassy was in touch with us regulary and providing us with the latest updates" he added.
Saudi students used social media to contact each other and update people with their latest news. "I used twitter and instagram applications to inform my family and my friends about Hurricane Sandy in New York," said Abdulrahman Binmahfooz, 21-year-old graphic design student. "There was no Internet or electricity, but the Internet on my phone was working fine. I used social media outlets because I couldn't receive any phone calls and I knew my family would be worried so I decided to use the new media to comfort them, " he added.