Helping a university weather the storm

By dawn the storm was far from over, as Joe Kamendy and his front-end loader kept pushing back the snow.When a major snowstorm makes driving dangerous and shuts down schools and universities, many people stay indoors for an unscheduled “snow day”.Inside, food staff Ed Abraham and Laura Exnowski prepare breakfast in the Decew dining hall.But not everyone.Brock University’s five residences house nearly 2,400 students, the equivalent of a small town that needs to be fed, made secure and kept accessible to emergency vehicles.When Monday’s winter wallop shut down Brock for the day, cancelling all classes and activities, a handful of employees still managed to get out of their own driveways to make sure nobody went hungry or was marooned in a snow-bound corner of campus.Mike McNamara, left and Richard Strickland clear a path from Decew Residence to the Schmon Tower. While Campus Security monitored the safety of students and facilities, a small group of food services staff made sure dining hall kitchens in Lowenberger and Decew residences were up and running. The first baker got in at 2 am, as the storm was starting to peak. Chefs arrived by 6 am, followed shortly by 10 service staff and two managers.Outside, in the face of wind-driven snow and lots of it, snow clearing crews worked through Sunday night and all day Monday.Plow driver Bob Rattew: “You just keep going.”They used plows, snow blowers and shovels to clear roads and fire lanes, keep walkways and building entrances useable, and – taking advantage of the absence of parked vehicles – plowing out parking lots. At one point mechanics had to be called in to repair the main plow, but it was soon back out in the elements.By Monday noon the worst had moved on, and Environment Canada lifted its weather alert for Niagara. But swirling winds were still sculpting two-foot drifts that had to be cleared before thousands of students and staff showed up the next morning.“At the height of the storm you just keep going,” said snowplow driver Bob Rattew. “You’re just trying to keep up.”Ride along with Bob Rattew, watch this video recorded by John Dick, Brock’s Manager of Grounds Services.Campus Security staff (l-r) Sean McGrath, Darren Peacock, Rick Geady and Bruce Beckett use CCTV to monitor campus conditions.

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