Hurricane Isaias - No major consequences, but a learning experience


With two major storms in a week -- a thunderstorm a few days before Isaias brought a tornado to Sharon -- Silver Lake was indeed lucky to get by with no major damage to buildings and grounds. Like our neighbors around the state, we had our share of fallen branches and trees to contend with.

A tree uprooted during the hurricane blocks the path to the Hubbell Chapel.
But considering the size of the place, and the number of trees, we count ourselves fortunate. A close-call tree fall by the garage broke a window, and some trees came down on the Low Ropes course and damaged a couple of elements. The window and the ropes course elements are, fortunately, simple repairs.

The bigger challenge was the lack of electricity. Silver Lake went one full week without power. Again, we were very lucky. Because we're not currently serving guests, we had very little refrigerated and frozen food in storage, and therefore very little spoilage.

However, we can't always count on luck, and this storm has caused us to take a critical look at our storm preparedness. The two items at the top of that preparation list are those I've just mentioned: Trees and backup power.
SLCC has many beautiful trees, and unfortunately many are approaching their twilight years. That's a euphemistic way of saying that it's time to bid a fond farewell to some of our oldest camp friends, especially those that pose an imminent threat to buildings or campers! 

We will be undertaking a critical health and safety analysis of all the largest trees in camp, especially those close to the buildings.  As we prune and remove trees (an ever-present part of camp maintenance), we will also be looking with a critical and creative eye toward identifying locations that we can strategically plant the next generation of beautiful and shade giving trees.  (Me + Tree = ❤️)

Backup power is another place we'd like to devote some attention. This time we got by with a portable generator, moving it back and forth between buildings to keep a couple small freezers cold enough to avoid waste. If we had been in
A couple of trees fell on the maze element at Low Ropes. Once the trees are cleared, this will be a simple repair.
regular summer operating mode or non-covid retreat season, with several large walk-in freezers and refrigerators full, the food loss would have been potentially large and expensive. 

The camp's water supply system is already on a generator, but the kitchens are not. We will be looking into adding portable or fixed generator systems to the Cedars and summer kitchens to provide backup cooling and cooking power next time we have a multi-day outage. A couple more big storms in the next few years would quickly justify the investment. 

And maybe, with enough headlamps and flashlights, retreat groups or conferees would be able to weather a storm here instead of making an early departure. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

Onwards and upwards,

Matt Taylor

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Silver Lake Camp & Retreat Center

Silver Lake Camp & Retreat Center is a ministry of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
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223 Low Road | Sharon, CT 06069 | 860.364.5526 | Fax: 860.364.1000 |