UCA Staff, Students Clean Up Windstorm Damage

March 17, 2016 | Tamara Michalenko Terry

The bright morning sunshine was a nice change from the darkness village students experienced in their homes before heading to classes at Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) in Spangle, Wash. Many village students lost power in the windstorm that struck on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, and had no definite answer as to when it would come back. Thankfully, the dorms continued to have power even though many faculty houses remained without warmth and electricity.

John Winslow, UCA principal, was on campus bright and early Wednesday clearing the pathway for students to enter the Administration Building for classes. Following the traditional Wednesday assembly, more than 50 students joined staff working around campus and in downtown Spangle to clear trees and clean up limbs and debris that had been blown around during the windstorm.

“Too bad HOPE day wasn’t today,” said Polly Officer, UCA senior. She was referring to the fact that students and staff had spent the previous day in and around Spokane assisting organizations as part of their quarterly HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) projects, a tradition spanning more than 20 years at UCA. Amanda Goad, HOPE coordinator, was in contact with organizations to see if they could use student help with cleanup for part of the next day.

Chris Kramer, UCA maintenance director, and his team surveyed the damage to the dorms, greenhouse, faculty houses, trees and campus. “The girls’ dorm southwest corner and the west end of the music building had the most roof damage,” he says. While covering the damage to the girls’ dorm roof during the storm, both Kramer and Grant Williams, assistant maintenance staff, had their glasses blown off their faces.

In addition to roof damage, downed trees and pine branches were everywhere. One faculty had a tree go down between his eaves. “Considering the amount of wind we had, we are really fortunate,” says Kramer.

The task seemed overwhelming when Kramer started the day, but, one by one, staff started helping, and then the students were given the opportunity to assist. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kramer says. “I am so appreciative of the help, especially from the students. Their school spirit really came through.”

“Within a matter of hours, staff and students transformed the campus from a windstorm to a peaceful place,” says Florence Lacey, UCA vice principal for academics. “We certainly have more that needs to be repaired, but the improvements the staff and students made to the campus were definitely noticed and appreciated."

“It is great for our students to see Christianity in action,” Winslow adds. “It speaks to their character when a student sees a need and says, ‘What can I do to help?’ Whether they realize it or not, they are exemplifying Matt. 25:35. We couldn’t be more proud of our staff's and students’ willingness to help when there was a need.”

View more photos of the wind storm damage via Facebook.