Snowpocalypse ’16, the second-biggest snowfall in New York City history, took Fordham’s campuses by storm on Jan. 23, dumping more than two feet of snow in a day and causing weekend classes and activities to be cancelled.

While many students hunkered down in their residence halls, some 100 Fordham personnel from Public Safety, Facilities Operations, Sodexo food services, and Residential Life, among others, kept Fordham up and running.

“They made sure our students were safe and that their needs were being met,” said John Carroll, associate vice president for public safety. “What these employees did was sacrifice time with their own families to take care of the Fordham family.”
(Gallery photos: Michael Dames, Jill LeVine, and Fordham Instagram)

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Many facilities workers spent Friday night in accommodations at the Rose Hill campus and in McMahon Hall apartments on the Lincoln Center campus. And they weren’t alone. Public safety staff also stayed all weekend in provided housing, so that weekend shifts were filled.

Come Saturday, outside crews faced massive snowdrifts, wind chills well below freezing, and gusts over 40 mph as they cleared roads, walkways, and all public sidewalks that abut the University, said Robert Freda, director of Rose Hill campus operations. Managers and supervisors also worked for the duration of the storm.

Paul Thyagaraj, senior manager of Lincoln Center facilities, called the blizzard a “killer storm—the worst I’ve seen in my 20 years at Fordham.”

To refuel their campus plows, he said, a crew had to plow out a gas station on 11th Avenue in Manhattan so they could reach the pump.

“We couldn’t break for more than 15 minutes, because the snow would pile up,” he said.

Public Safety provided emergency cots at Rose Hill’s Lombardi Center and in Lincoln Center’s McMahon Hall for their staff, and at Rose Hill for Sodexo staff, as well. Sodexo staffers were offered the option of going home early on Saturday, said Jessica Farrenkopf, Rose Hill service manager, “but many of them stayed to help” and even opened early on Sunday to feed grounds and safety personnel who had worked around the clock.”

Residential Life directors Jenifer Campbell and Kimberly A. Russell said things generally went smoothly in residence halls; Campbell said some students and staff braved the blizzard and “went sledding in Central Park.”

By Sunday, students who had hunkered down in residence halls with ramen, books, and video games ventured out to enjoy the sun and the tracts of virgin snow. Students staged a snowball fight in front of the University Church, and on Martyrs’ lawn, a group undertook some ambitious snow architecture.

“Originally it was going to be an igloo,” said Alysha Moises, a resident of the Campbell, Salice, and Conley Halls. “But this is the wrong kind of snow. Now, we’re just trying to make a fort.”

Other students took time to photograph the beauty. Yi Wang, a teaching assistant in the biology department, paused to snap photos of Eddies Parade awash in white. “I live in the south part of China, so it’s sunny like California. We don’t see snow so heavy. I have seen it, but smaller. This is the biggest snow I have seen.”

Wang assured that he would be sending photos to his family.

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Janet Sassi is editor/associate director of internal communications. She can be reached at (212) 636-7577 or [email protected]