Kyle Swint, Staff Writer
In late Sept.—after Hurricane Matthew was confirmed to be headed towards Savannah—Facility Services began taking precautions to prepare Armstrong’s campus for the storm that was set to hit.
Director of Facility Services Katie Twining explained, “We began the process of clearing all roofs of debris, unblocking all storm drains to prevent flooding and cutting up any potentially hazardous tree branches. As we worked into that first week of October, we spent our time checking all building systems and generators, and preparing our equipment.”
Hurricane Matthew’s gale began ravaging Savannah on Friday, Oct. 7, beginning in the afternoon and continuing throughout the night. Instead of evacuating, the Armstrong Police Department rode out the hurricane to keep Facility Services and students up to date on the damage that Matthew was inflicting.
Because of the mandatory evacuation for Chatham County, Facility Services was unable to return to campus until the mandatory evacuation had been lifted. Thankfully, Director Twining had already made previous arrangements with Belfor Restoration—a disaster restoration team—who remained in the area after the storm. They were contacted after Director Twining had been informed by Armstrong Chief of Police Wayne Willcox that Armstrong had received a massive amount of debris and was deprived of power on Saturday, Oct 8.
The next day, Belfor Restoration brought in a large team with heavy duty equipment to tackle the damage on campus. The team began the clean-up effort, and within the next 24 hours was able to restore power back to campus.
Once the travel ban was lifted for Chatham County, the Facility Services’ staff began flocking in to join the restoration efforts. The main issue the Belfor-Armstrong team faced was removing many fallen trees around campus.
Director Twining stated, “Several trees had fallen between Gamble and Victor Halls, four trees had fallen on the new tennis complex resulting in extensive damage to the complex and 2/3 of the bike path was impassable due to large trees down. There were also a number of trees that were considered hazardous following the storm due to the winds partially lifting the root balls. Those trees were also removed.”
In the email sent by President Bleicken on Wednesday, Oct. 12, students, faculty and staff were able to see pictures of the damages Armstrong sustained.
The email also explained: “Large trees are being removed from campus, bike paths are still obstructed by debris, and Roger Warlick Drive remains in a state of disarray. On the athletics front, our new tennis complex sustained significant damage from the storm—including damage to the northwest courts, fencing, bleachers, and light poles—and the softball outfield fence needs to be replaced. “
On that same day, most of Facility Services had returned and began assessing each building and room on campus for damages. Luckily, there was only minor damage to Armstrong’s interior that included some water intrusions that caused damage to a few ceiling tiles.
Thanks to the efforts of Belfor Restoration, Armstrong’s Facility Services and Custodial Staff working together, Armstrong reopened on Friday, Oct. 21.
After experiencing Hurricane Matthew and seeing the effects it has caused, Facility Services is working towards developing a more solid Hurricane preparedness plan that will ensure more safety measures and procedures in the future.