Nicole meets Sandy ... now stuck in Newark

From Features & Blogs

Schreiner student Nicole K. is stuck at the airport in Newark, New Jersey, and has had a front row seat to the drama of Hurricane Sandy’s direct hit and aftermath. An outgoing young woman, Nikki has embraced the experience as an opportunity to meet interesting people and to grow spiritually.

Nicole at Newark Airport Christian family from Chicago with the United pilot I played Scrabble with (on the right)

Monday, Oct. 29
, 2012
Well, it's kind of a long story...I left for Vermont on Thursday (Oct. 25) to go to a military ball with my boyfriend whom I hadn't seen in three months. Unfortunately, a hurricane is coming through the northeast. I managed to make my first flight from Burlington, Vermont to Newark, New Jersey, but they canceled my connecting flight to San Antonio. Because of the hurricane, they closed down the entire airport and the first flight they could get me on is Wednesday at 4:10pm. Booking these flights 3 months in advance, I had no idea this could happen. Nicole meets Sandy ... now stuck in Newark

I'm now stuck in a hotel in a place I've never been, by myself for three days to weather a hurricane, with nowhere to go because everything will be closed. Funnily enough, I also have none of my luggage because that is currently lost somewhere. So I only have the clothes on my back and what I happened to have in my backpack.

But I love traveling and I love hurricanes (I lived in Florida for 9 years) and God has clearly provided me with numerous guardian angels because everyone I've run into has been so ready and willing to help. Bumped into the founder of the Bermuda fuel company who was here on business and stuck here too who gave me his personal cell number 5 minutes after meeting me and said to call if I needed anything and he would come to me. The customer service supervisor herself got me a hotel room for last night and personally drove me to the shuttles. Met a woman who's been an RN for 20 years originally from Ghana stuck at this hotel with her family because her home kitchen caught fire and she's practically adopted me already. Met a former overseas professional basketball player who let me know my backpack was unzipped and held my drink so I could fix it, then made sure I made it to the right shuttle back to the airport. I was also befriended by an airport cop who told me to call him Uncle Bruce. This morning I met four women from Scotland traveling together who had never been out of the country and were almost in tears they were so distraught, so I helped them for a while and actually asked to sleep on their floor or in their bathtub when I was originally told there were no hotels for tonight. Eventually ended up in a conversation about God with one of the Scottish women and then one of the airport shuttle drivers. Also met a 23-year-old engineer from India who I led through the airport when we left it the first time. It's remarkable how much can happen in 24 hours. The kindness of those around always astounds me.
Nicole meets Sandy ... now stuck in Newark
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

I have had a few more amazing experiences I could add in as well. Unfortunately the only picture I have is of the front door of the hotel that I watched fly off last night during the hurricane! haha! It never quite crossed my mind to take picture evidence!

Just to continue the epic, today upon awakening, there was no electricity, no cell service and no hotel Internet connection, and my family was worried sick trying to contact me. A man overheard my desperation in needing to reach my concerned parents to let them know I am all right and offered to let me use his very limited wi-fi connection. I discovered his name to be Adam, he works for the Miami Herald and was here covering a huge professional football game (not being a football follower, I'm not exactly sure who played!). He even offered to drive me to Raleigh, where he hoped, God willing, to be able to have a flight out by today! But I felt I needed to stay put since I am safe here and there are no guarantees planes would be flying out of Raleigh.
Nicole meets Sandy ... now stuck in Newark
About an hour later, I discovered my phone was missing from my jacket pocket. I must have looked distraught (but hopefully not like a damsel in distress!) because within minutes I had nearly every person in the hotel helping search for my lost phone. No one at the front desk claimed to have seen it. While studying in the lobby, I overheard a woman in the midst of a scrabble game with a pilot mention something about San Antonio. Something told me to go to them. Not generally one to intrude on conversations, when I found myself moments later standing by their table, I inquired as to what she had been doing in San Antonio. I discovered she was there visiting family, but on her way back to Ireland where she and her husband are missionaries. Shortly after pulling up a chair and being invited to join the game, I mentioned that I had lost my phone, and the woman told me she had seen a man pick up a phone outside and then directed me to him.

I forgot to mention the irony of how I lost my phone in the first place!! Now that I really think about it, I can't believe how ironic it is!! So I have this thing with picking up trash. I have to do it, almost in an OCD kind of way. Nicole meets Sandy ... now stuck in Newark If I see anything on the ground not supposed to be there, I have to pick it up; if I don't, I always end up turning around to get it. It's almost an annoying habit. Anyway, one of the trees outside the hotel had Christmas lights on it, but the hurricane winds tore off one of the branches, so the branch, along with Christmas lights, lay partially on the street. I moved the darkened Christmas lights and the branch from the street, and it was then my phone fell out of my pocket and onto the grass where I didn't hear it land. Because of this instant, I was on pins and needles for the next six hours, afraid my phone may be permanently lost. But God had other plans! Those Christmas lights may never light up again, but God reminded me, as always, He has the power to illuminate any and every situation!  Absolutely astonishing.

Because of the missionary lady, I got my phone back and was reunited with my safety net and only connection to home. Not sure how she would respond to my next gesture, but not really caring, phone in hand, I ran back to her and gave her a hug, to which she smiled.

This evening a shuttle took us to another hotel with electricity and I ended up sitting with the same woman again, along with another woman from Chicago stranded here with her family. Yet again, I found myself in a conversation centered around God and the importance of raising children in the ways of God. I must have found the two Godliest women in the hotel. Although, one thing I know above all else: I didn't find them; God led me to them, just as he is leading me through this whole situation. To use Adam's phrase: God willing, I will be home tomorrow night!