The storm was unexpected, but the response was exactly what you would expect from Siena Saints.
The October 7 storm was, in more specific meteorological terms, a derecho. Spanish for "straight" - a derecho is a wide-spread, straight-line wind storm, and last Wednesday, it blew through campus at 90 miles an hour (the strength of a category 1 hurricane). With no warning, the derecho ambushed Siena and filled the Grotto with debris. Roommates in Padua Hall were among the first to respond.
Sam Hearn '23 was in the Sarazen Student Union when the power went out. He was studying for midterms, but the darkness was a convenient excuse to take a break. Hearn and his roommates decided to survey the damage on the Quad, then circled over to the Grotto. It was a mess.
The Grotto is significant to all three friends for different reasons (below). The straight-line winds blew at 90 miles an hour, but the candles were still burning. The three friends stayed until every last branch was cleared.
"Siena has always been a beautiful campus and the Grotto is one of the best examples of this. It has always been a special place for me and so many others, whether it be where one attends Mass, lights a candle, worships with friends, or has a moment of spiritual reflection. It was therefore so important that we cleaned up the space and made sure that it was accessible to everyone."
Sam Hearn '23
"I find the Grotto to be a special place for both me and the whole campus. It is a place where someone can go to feel vulnerable within themselves and know that it is okay to feel that way. It also reminds me that at the end of the day, whatever we are going through will pass and we will be OK."
Dmitriy Romanowski '23
"The Grotto is one of my absolute favorite places on campus and has been since my freshman year. It was where I met my best friends, who also helped to clean this spectacular place."
John Peck '23
In the wake of the storm, all branches of Facilities responded with urgency. Campus was closed on October 8, but more than 80 essential employees, some working longer than 13-hour days, were busy on campus cleaning, sawing, and restoring systems. The residence halls and townhouses were the initial priority, to confirm the safety and security of each student. Some of the many tasks included:
The grounds crew led cleanup efforts, removing trees and clearing paths. Electricians responded to fire alarm systems and worked to ensure telephones and all critical reporting systems were functional. Carpenters secured two roofs damaged by debris. Custodial staff maintained all pandemic-related protocols despite the disruptions. And so much more...
“Last week’s wind and rain event was by any measure an historic weather event that truly tested our team’s resources and abilities. I am proud to say that our entire Facilities crew, including our trade shops, our grounds crew, our custodial crew and other supporting staff stepped up to the challenge and did a super job of mitigating damage from the storm and keeping our campus community safe.”
Mark Frost, AVP for Facilities Management