Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Safe in the Storm

Shepherds Ministries, where I worked for six years, and both my parents, my wife, and my sister work, was hit by a tornado yesterday afternoon. Here's the official report from Shepherds:
Union Grove, Wisconsin – A powerful storm rushed through the area at about 4:00 pm November 22, 2010 causing damage on the campus of Shepherds Ministries. Although some residents at the facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities had to be relocated to other buildings on campus, there were no reported injuries. According to Shepherds President, Dr. Bill Amstutz, "The storm warning was received, and we quickly moved all of our residents, students and staff on campus to the building basements and storm shelters which also serve as evacuation centers when severe weather is forecast.” Dr. Amstutz also shared that at the main building on campus - the Wood Center - a gas leak developed which caused the evacuation of residents and staff there to other buildings on campus. "We were surprised at the damage on campus as we have survived tornado warnings in the past but have never experienced any significant damage to buildings, storage sheds, greenhouse, some vehicles  and trees that occurred with this sudden storm,” added Dr. Amstutz. Area Fire Departments were on hand at Shepherds to assist with monitoring the gas leak and other potential problems until the power was restored. All power was restored by 11 pm Monday evening so residents and staff were able to return to the Wood Center, having been temporarily relocated for their safety to other buildings on campus during  the evening. Facilities Administrator and local planning council member Owen Lackey reported, "There was damage to several windows and doors, some roof damage, several trees toppled and storage sheds overturned.” Mr. Lackey also shared, "Complete assessment of damages continues, and we expect repairs to be completed within a short time with no relocation of residents, students or staff required.” Full assessment of the damage will take place during daylight on Tuesday November 23. Shepherds Ministries has been at the Union Grove, Wisconsin location since 1964 and provides spiritual, residential, vocational and recreational programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In 2008, Shepherds added a new educational program for young people with intellectual disabilities called Shepherds College. There are currently 130 full-time residents located on the campus along with 26 students in the new college program.  For more information, contact Shepherds at 262-878-5620.

Thanks be to God, no one was injured. My wife and my Dad were both at work when the storm hit. One thing not mentioned in the above report was that Shepherds had just received several thousand Poinsettia plants to sell for their annual Christmas fundraiser. The greenhouse was damaged and temperatures fell to the mid-twenties. I don't know how many plants they were able to save. (The greenhouse is also where many of the clients work, and an essential part of Shepherds College, where people with intellectual disabilites learn career skills that can help them transition to independence.)

Few of the families of Shepherds' clients can afford the full cost, so Shepherds depends on donations and fundraisers like their Poinsettia sale to continue operating. At this point, they are assessing the damage to the buildings and thanking God everyone is safe. When I took my wife to work today, I looked around. Most of the buildings have broken windows and roof damage. A dumpster the size of a pickup truck was blown across the parking lot. The small greenhouse is completely destroyed. The large greenhouse has most of its roof missing. There was extensive damage to the maintenance shop. One employee's car was blown three spaces down and all of the windows smashed. Many trees are down. Shepherds hasn't asked for donations, but I'm sure the needed repairs will cost money. If you make a donation as part of your Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration, would you mind noting it's in honor of Goldilocks? They'll know who you mean.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so sorry to read about this. I hope you are able to repair the damage quickly and that what replaces the old brings renewed energy and love to the important work you do.

December 2, 2010 at 12:27 AM  

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