While many Wheaton students relish the school holidays that result from winter storms or hurricanes, the Wheaton administration faces the difficult task of making the campus as safe a place as possible for students and essential staff members during a storm and its immediate aftermath. Such clean-up operations tend to go unnoticed, but have a direct effect on the campus, its community, and its events.
On Friday, Feb. 8, the blizzard called Nemo dumped over two feet of snow in the New England area, including the Wheaton campus. In an effort to avoid student and worker injury, the college closed the campus all day that Friday and cancelled most classes and activities for the following Monday.
Brian Douglas, Vice President for Finance and Administration, spearheaded storm clean-up efforts, making sure the clean-up crews were well-stocked with snow removal essentials.
“We [storm crews] are constantly watching weather reports this time of year, and in this case the report proved pretty accurate,” Douglas recounted. “We began making sure all equipment associated with snow removal and tree damage was ready to operate, chainsaws were sharpened and snowblowers were . . . fueled up and ready to go.”
Douglas was also the man responsible for keeping inventory of salt and sand stockpiles, both essential when it comes to ensuring campus safety on the often slick pathways and building entrances during and after a snow or ice storm.
“The crew mostly consisted of Wheaton workers,” Douglas said. “However, the college received some help from a local firm that donated huge front-end loaders that aided in the elimination of . . . piles of snow from campus walkways. Crews worked from Friday morning until sometime Monday, but over one thousand hours were logged during the storm.”
Student safety remained the priority during clean-up, and so residence buildings and dining halls received the most attention. Areas around academic buildings received little attention during the actual storm, which led to most of Monday’s activities being cancelled.
Douglas credits not only the Grounds crew, but also all the other members of the essential staff — like the Dining Services workers — for restoring a sense of normality after the blizzard.
“I am very proud of the team,” said Douglas. “They worked their tails off, working over sixty hours with very short breaks. The snow removal could not have been more effective.”
On the students’ parts, there is one overwhelming reaction to the storm clean-up efforts: “Thank you, Wheaton!”