Volunteers repair damages to Lutheran college campus


ST. PETER, MN (May 4, 1998) -- When the tornado swept through St. Peter, Minn., March 29, one of the many

facilities with significant damage was Gustavus Adolphus College, a private

Lutheran liberal arts college and community mainstay that sits prominently

on a hill.

The reaction of the community, alumni, and student body epitomized the

prevailing spirit throughout storm-ravaged south-central Minnesota.

Fortunately most students were off campus for Spring Break at the time of

the tornadoes.

Following the storms, debris was everywhere, both inside and outside of

campus buildings. The roof on one of the campus' buildings had caved in,

and interior damage was extensive.

"It looked as if the entire inside was covered with mud and glass," said

Bill Fredell, director of communications, Lutheran Social Services of

Minnesota (LSS).

LSS sent down about 1,000 volunteers, and joining with students and alumni

who "just seemed to come out of the woodwork," they spent a week combing

the campus and community for debris.

Gustavus Adolphus received calls from schools across the country, offering

support ranging from student housing for those still there during spring

break, to supplies and services.

Communities and agencies throughout Minnesota provided law enforcement and

security support. Skilled workers such as contractors and roofers worked

into the evening. To deal with all the tree debris, two stump grinding

machines ran around the clock.

Just two days after the disaster, crews from at least 10 colleges arrived

to help with clean-up and providing equipment. For example, three busloads

of volunteers left Concordia College in Moorhead at 3 a.m. to make the

trip. Still, they worked all day and into the evening, and some stayed

another day to help rid farmland of debris.

The school parlayed the outpouring of support into a volunteer clean-up

time April 4-5. About 2,000 people came to shovel and rake over those two

days. One alumnus came from Atlanta to help move some 2,000 computers out

of academic buildings. The effort went so well, a second clean-up day was

held April 18.

A physician on call in the medical tent during one volunteer weekend said

he had "done a lot of disasters, but hadn't seen one as positive and well

organized as Gustavus."

Gustavus Adolphus College reopened April 20 at the end of the institution's

Spring Break.

Posted May 4, 1998

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