High-intensity wind damages felt statewide

Last Sunday, Sept. 14, millions of people across Ohio experienced effects of intense windstorms as the remnants of Hurricane Ike moved across the state. Prior to the storm, the National Weather Service had issued a high-wind warning for Wayne County, indicating that gusts at a minimum of 40 to 60 m.p.h. were forthcoming – nearly hurricane force level.

Damage in Wayne County was largely limited to downed power lines and fallen trees – though the severity and frequency of both had the potential to cause serious injury. “We’re all thankful that no one on campus was injured and that we sustained no significant damage to any of our buildings from Sunday’s high winds,” stated President Grant Cornwell.

The storm caused the deaths of at least four citizens of Ohio, according to news reports. These deaths include two people who died after a tree fell on top of them in Hueston Woods State Park and a 12-year-old who was killed by falling debris in Lorain, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland released to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

As for the heavily wooded Wooster campus, tree-related damages were widespread. “It is too early to put a total cost of the damages together,” said Director of Campus Grounds Beau Mastrine. “The area around Galpin, Ebert Art Center, and along Beall Avenue were areas that had a large number of trees that received damage.”

Mastrine went on to state that by the end of last Monday all of the fallen timber had been removed and cleaned up and that 90 percent of all debris would be removed by the end of last Wednesday.

This restoration was due in part to volunteer efforts by students and staff, who mobilized early Monday afternoon. On the morning of the 15th, President Cornwell sent out a campus-wide email asking those who had free time to participate in the cleanup efforts.

“The response from students, faculty and staff to our call for volunteers to help with clean up yesterday was truly spectacular,” said Cornwell of the turnout. “I can‚Äôt say enough about the caring spirit and good will of this campus community. Our response to this storm demonstrated once again what a special place The College of Wooster really is.”

Mastrine added his sentiments by issuing a statement of gratitude to participating students via email. “The efforts of everyone are a total reinforcement of the team mentality here at The College of Wooster,” he added. “The Grounds Department would have spent hundreds of additional hours on an already busy schedule cleaning up the campus ‚Ķ you were able to move through the areas that were damaged in a matter of hours. [It was] an unbelievable effort.”

Cornwell added that the emergency contact system worked well for those who have registered with the system. “It is critically important that each and every student register their cell phone numbers so that we can have 100 percent coverage and an ability to get emergency messages out to our students,” he stated.