On June 17, 2010, the rural community of Wadena in northern Minnesota was hit by an EF4 tornado. The combined Wadena-Deer Creek senior and junior high school received a tremendous amount of damage to the building, bus garage, and grounds. More than 1,000 students were scheduled to start school in just a couple of months in the building, and the district needed answers quickly. Clark’s well-trained emergency response staff was there to determine the safety of the structure and guide the rest of the evaluation team through the building to assess the level of damage the facility suffered and provide options for them to move forward.
Dividing the building into zones, Clark’s team assisted with the analysis of each section of the damaged facility and the determination of safety for the rest of the recovery and salvage team’s entrance. Clark provided a structural hot zone map to identify the level and severity of the damage throughout the building. The red, yellow, and green zones aided city, state, and federal emergency management, school district, insurance, and other professional representatives in a variety of ways. It also aided the Clark team in determining which areas could be accessed with relative safety by the recovery and salvage teams. The crew combed through the rubble, taking inventory of the damage to the building, as well as items contained within it. Items that could safely be salvaged were removed from the building and placed in long-term storage trailers on the school grounds.
Effective communication and safe procedures are important on any project, but in an emergency response situation these skills are essential. Clark’s team members proved their abilities in working with multiple professionals, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, the school district, and the community to provide accurate, timely information to get the district the critical information they needed to procure funding, assistance, and a team to start envisioning their new school.