Hurricane Florence was a serious event across the state of North Carolina, and it impacted South Carolina, parts of Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and other states as well. Mother Nature has her fury, and She spares no one.
What matters for our students is that Auldern Academy was as prepared as anyone could be under the circumstances—although we always push ourselves to do better. We are located on a hill surrounded by forests and farms, so we were not worried about flooding on campus. On the other hand, we had to plan ahead because the roads below might flood. Trees might fall. We might lose power. Etc., etc., etc. Proper planning was essential!
Team Auldern, led by our intrepid Executive Director Angie Fusco, went into action. Our kitchen crew led by Cindy Pietro prepared grab and go meals in the event of an evacuation, and also prepared many healthy meals that could easily be heated on the grill if we lost power. Our maintenance director, Fred Berenger, made sure that windows, roofs, and doors were in excellent condition, our generators ready to go in the event of a power outage to keep our refrigeration and emergency lights going, our water supply plentiful, and anything that could come loose was secured. Our school led by Academic Dean Jim Phillips helped out all the other departments in making preparations, and also made sure the girls had their assignments prepared in the event of school closure (we did not have to close school!). Our counselors led by Student Life Director Tasha Rembert made sure the vans were gassed and ready to go in the event of an evacuation. She made sure there was plenty of staffing on campus and her team prepared a variety of activities to occupy our students, many of which would not be dependent on power in the event of an outage. Mani-pedis during a hurricane? The SL team made it possible—and made it happen! Our local fire department was prepared to come to campus if any trees or power lines fell, and local police and EMS were at the ready in the event of an evacuation. Finally, our parent company, Sequel Youth Services, offered whatever support we needed, including extra staffing and housing in the event of an evacuation. We managed on our own, but we surely appreciated the fact that we had folks watching our backs.
We did lose electrical power for a few days, but otherwise our campus was unharmed by what turned out to be a serious storm. The students had a lot of fun, although they admitted that things were difficult at times. Still, they did homework, ate, played games, and helped with minor cleanup afterwards. When the power returned on Monday, we all counted our blessings. While there remain many folks without power or even basic housing throughout the areas affected by this storm, we are safe on the hill. We are all very grateful. Even in darkness, we felt the light and the love from our parents, staff, local resources, and parent company.