On the morning of Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Valdosta State University (VSU) President, Dr. Richard Carvajal, joined Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) President, Dr. Craig Wentworth on the leafy campus of SRTC Bainbridge. The leaders united to personally acknowledge and thank colleagues from both colleges who have worked together tirelessly to clear away dozens of fallen trees and restore the campus to safe working order for SRTC students, faculty, and staff.
SRTC’s Bainbridge-area campuses are known for their verdant appeal. The buildings of the SRTC Bainbridge campus are nestled amongst a wooded area of old-growth trees. The fact that the former Bainbridge State College’s logo featured iconic trees of Georgia was no accident. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael’s historic path of destruction, several of SRTC’s western instructional locations including SRTC Bainbridge, Blakely, and Donalsonville experienced structural damage to buildings, massive power outages, and more than 100 downed trees, which made the campuses inaccessible by vehicle.
With the Southwest Georgia community reeling, SRTC’s Bainbridge campus quickly became a staging location for the Georgia National Guard, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Community Supervision, and utility providers. Cots filled the Student Wellness Center and the Kirbo Center to accommodate these responders. The Georgia National Guard rallied in SRTC’s parking lot to provide ice, water, tarps, and food to victims of the storm. As the region began to pull itself back together, it became clear, however, that SRTC’s campuses could not resume their normal operation without a herculean effort. Immediately after the storm, the maintenance and custodial staff went beyond the call of duty, working day and night to clear and clean up the campuses even as many of their own homes were without power.
When VSU’s Dr. Carvajal’s learned of the fallen trees and `debris obstructing the SRTC campuses, and the work that SRTC’s crews were doing, VSU sent help in the form of manpower, machinery, and equipment. He noted, “Valdosta State University takes seriously its role as South Georgia’s regional university, and part of that means actively partnering with our other area colleges. Also, on a personal note, having served as the President of what was formerly Bainbridge State College, a piece of my heart will always be in Bainbridge. I am so proud of the work our staff did to help clear debris and allow the Bainbridge campus to return to some sense of normalcy, as well as for all our university is doing to support those affected by Michael. Bainbridge is an amazingly strong and beautiful community, and I know that they will rebuild stronger than ever.”
Dr. Wentworth added his appreciation of Dr. Carvajal and his team, saying, “We at Southern Regional Technical College are very grateful to Dr. Richard Carvajal, who offered help without us even asking for it, and to his plant operations staff members who came to our aid. Their help and support was heartwarming and we are so thankful and appreciative of them and their hard work and effort. The joint effort put forth by the VSU staff and our own SRTC operations staff was amazing and showed their incredible dedication and commitment to helping people and a college in need. I personally thank each and every one of the VSU and SRTC staff who participated in and helped with the massive clean-up.”