There is something about storms that wakes me up the in middle of the night. I’m not sure if it’s the lightning, the thunder, or the water gushing through my open window, but I wake up every time. I didn’t think anything strange about the storm Monday morning. I was getting ready to go back to sleep until I noticed that my alarm was set to go off in five minutes: 5am PT.
View from Darcy’s window
Monday, July 11 is our first day back from summer break. Today, Maple 4 was supposed to debrief about our project with the Vinton Parks and Recreation Department and then have a briefing about our new project. All of that would be delayed.
In a matter of minutes, the storm picked up intensity. Luckily, all corps members made it to the tunnels under the Braille School, leading to no serious injuries. For two and half hours, we sat in humid darkness, listening to the rumbles and roars of the wind and thunder. For two and half hours we wondered what had become of our lives on the surface.
Everyone has their own first impression of what they saw. My first thought? Katamari Damacy. Tornadoes spin everything around and make a mess. This had to be the work of the tornadoes nefarious younger, yet just as destructive, brother: straight line winds.
This tree is two feet in diameter
Everything had been rolled flat. Some trees snapped in half like twigs, other trees shoved straight out of the ground. Some roofs lost a few shingles, others had been picked up and tossed onto the front lawn.
Water gushes from every room in Cottage after the water main is broken
Cottage, the dorm of 30 corps members, four from Maple 4, and the location of our kitchen, took a hard hit. One tree was lobbed straight at it, fracturing the wall, impacting the ceiling, and cracking open a water main. Not a single room was safe from flooding.
Much of Main’s roof was removed in the storm
Main, where many sight-impaired summer campers and Braille School offices are located, had its roof involuntarily removed. The entire roof. Copper, wood, shingles. All of it. Picked up, flipped over, and set down on the front lawn.
Kish and Rosie from Maple Unit clear off the inverted roof so it can be removed
Do you know what we did? We were given the “All Clear” and we started working.
NCCC members clean up debris from storm
Bow saws, hand saws, pulaskis, axes, sledgehammers, hammers, crowbars, pry bars, rakes, chainsaws. We cleaned up trees, branches, twigs, boards, planks, nails, glass, copper, aluminum, bicycle helmets, Frisbees, garage doors, shingles, Styrofoam, and insulation. And that’s just on Monday.
Cedar unit assembles to clean up around Palmer Dormitory
On Tuesday, July 12, our team worked with our friends at the Vinton Parks and Recreation Department to clean up five acres of one of their parks. Five acres that had been covered in trees and roofing from buildings of several hundred yards away. The rest of Vinton was helped by the other 13 teams on campus (5 having left to help with prior obligations to disaster relief in Joplin and Saint Louis, MO).
Maple Unit Leader Jimmy chops with the Pulaski as M4 member Phil saws
One-hundred strapping young folks pushing their way into the town of 5100 to help clean up debris. If only every town were so lucky.
Kappa of Sunshine needs no explanation: “If you wake up one morning and notice it's a particularly beautiful day, you'll know we made it.”