'So much by so many'

That is how Facilities Director Jeff Kutch described the response by everyone from facilities employees to summer staff and campers in the aftermath of the June 29 "major storm event" that took down trees and knocked out power to Woodcraft Camp and the campus.

The storm was one of the most destructive and fast-moving bands of severe thunderstorms in North American history, according to national weather officials. With winds up to 91 miles per hour, the storm traversed through Indiana to the East Coast, resulting in 22 deaths and millions without power in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Miraculously, there were no injuries and structural damage on campus was minimal, though Kutch said it "looked like a war zone" and was without electricity from 2 to 8 p.m. Everything was up and running in less than 48 hours.

But 20 minutes after the storm blew through "everywhere I looked people were doing what had to be done. From facilities to campers, they were picking up, sweeping up; taking ownership of their residence. That is what shined for me.

"There was a tremendous 'whatever it takes' mentality and the spirit required to get through this. I am so proud of all of them." Kutch said.

Facilities personnel put themselves in some precarious positions, but went about their tasks without complaint and in a professional manner, Kutch said. Some of them spent the night Friday after working late and were back to work early Saturday.

Summer Camps Director Tony Mayfield also praised how everyone – the facilities crew, the janitorial and dining hall staffs, the camp staff, and the campers – worked together to make the best of the situation. Generators were used to maintain the basics and to make sure that both dining halls were functioning. "We wanted to make sure everyone had plenty of food and water," Mayfield said.

The domino effect of no electricity also meant:

● No air-conditioning in hot, humid conditions

● Limited sanitary functions

● No telephones or computers

● No website in the last two days of online fund raising for The Culver Fund

● Ice in the Henderson Arena began to melt

● Without fans to cool horses and remove ammonia fumes, the animals were pastured

● Residents of Academies' rentals were in the dark

The Academies' janitorial staff worked all weekend to keep the restroom facilities, which operate on electricity, functioning and sanitized, Mayfield said. The facilities crew, along with staff and campers who volunteered, cleared the paved walkways through Woodcraft and stacked the debris where it could easily be removed.

There were some surprises. For instance, despite being tested the night before, the backup generators at the Powerhouse failed to come online when the electricity failed. But from the bad, there is always some good. "We know where those critical areas are," Kutch said, "and we are prepared to address them better next time.

"We're going to create some new Standard Operating Procedures for these situations, but there is no substitute for leadership and good, sound reasoning and decision-making," he said.

Kutch also extended his appreciation to the Northern Indiana Public Service Company. Woodcraft is served by NIPSCO, he said, and the utility realized the significance of where some 600 children were located and made restoring power to Woodcraft a priority.

A second storm on Sunday dropped the temperature, but did not affect the electricity or compound the cleanup effort. Instead, Mayfield said it allowed everyone to have "a really good parade," and finish the week with a feeling of normalcy.

By: Doug Haberland
Culver Communications 

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