My but this summer was a summer! If you think the historic 2016 West Virginia flood was bad, trust me, the aftermath hasn’t been much easier! And that’s what I want to talk about today — the aftermath that just keeps giving.
After the mud and rock slide off the mountain during the heavy rains that caused the flood, some of our drain pipes became severely backed up. Much to our chagrin, this led to pipes bursting! 🙁
In some ways this is old news — it happened during the first few days of First Term, just after that unusual one-week-late opening day. What happened was that a heavy storm set in and the pipe just couldn’t take it anymore. It broke, leaving water all throughout Senior Camp. This was on top of an already over-saturated ground from the flooding.
Fortunately, our Facilities Director, Garrett O’Dell, was able to make a temporary fix just to get us through the summer. He fashioned an engineered ditch through Senior Camp that was thickly covered by hay, and a large hole in Senior Camp that we covered with a wood deck. The set up was stable, but still needed to be accessible to Garrett during the summer should it need repairing again.
At the time it didn’t, and carried us through.
But now that camp is over, the grounds are cleared, tents are packed away, and fundamental infrastructure fixes are ready for some heavy lifting, Garrett and his team are ready to dig in and get the work done. Now that no one is in camp, he can essentially rip up half the ground and replace all the pipes with new ones.
What I mean is, now he’s able to fully FIX all the draining issues from the ground (and below ground ) UP!
At the same time, Garrett and I have a lot of other things happening to address any other damages and bring flood-impacted camp spaces up to speed. Here’s a list of some upgrades, fixes, and changes:
- There’s a new road completed in from the “T” intersection at the top of hill to the workshop.
- Drainage lines have been enlarged and straightened.
- Our swales have been improved — these are small indentations designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater filtration. They are indentations in the ground that allow water to flow, yet look good and can be mowed.
- We’re replacing old clay three inch tiles with 6-8″ PVC pipes.
- With replacement of the drainage pipes, we’re working to make the flow stream larger, which enables us to avoid ongoing issues we’ve had with certain parts of camp (like Unit 4 in Senior Camp) getting extra-large rain puddles every time it rained.
So what else?
The flooding off the mountain above the rifle range will now be controlled by a combination of the large drain pipes, swales, and a replacement of drains and drain fields. The type of drains we had — clay tile — were small and couldn’t handle the flow and volume produced by such unusually heavy rains, to say nothing of 1,000 year flooding!
Going forward, the springs on the mountain will be controlled by the new drains and flow arrangements.
Because we had smaller, older pipes as drains, with sharp right angles, it wasn’t a long-term solution when outsized flooding occurred. These work for a normal sink drain, but not for outside drains that try to handle more runoff; all of our older arrangements worked for normal circumstances, bit not for a situation where the volume of water was far too much to contain, and could not efficiently be moved out of camp.
However, with our new and improved infrastructure, if this ever happens again — in a 1,000 years? 🙂 — the water will be in a better position to be efficiently moved off site. Even for a major thunderstorm it will be moved along much more safely and efficiently.
Now infrastructure might be kind of boring, and routine, but for us, we build from the ground up to create the best and safest spaces for your daughters to thrive. We know she’s more likely to be thinking about firing on a target, paddling a canoe, or working on a mean serve than to wonder how water will be moved off site during a storm. So leave that to us. But rest assured that even THAT boring detail we’ve got covered!
— Sam Dawson, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls