By Kent Singer, CREA Executive Director
The hailstorm that hammered the north Denver metro area this past May 8 caused more property damage than any previous hailstorm in Colorado history. The Colorado Rural Electric Association, the statewide service organization that provides communication, legislative, educational and safety support for your local electric cooperative, got hit hard. Those of us in the office that day watched as the ominous clouds rolled in, and the storm predicted on the weather apps on our phones became a reality. But we still had no idea what we were in for. When the hail started falling, it came hard and fast and we wondered if the relentless pounding of golf ballsized hailstones would ever stop.
When it did stop, it was immediately apparent that our building had sustained significant damage. Water started dripping through ceiling tiles with some panels collapsing as they soaked up the runoff. Staff members reacted quickly, using plastic sheets and large garbage bags to protect our computers and other equipment. Every waste can and recycling bin was commandeered to catch leaks.
It was obvious our roof was a problem. Further inspection showed that our heating and cooling system, our signage and outdoor lighting and the employee and company vehicles in the parking lot had also been damaged.
I’m happy to report that now, a little more than three months later, we have a new roof on the CREA building and the ruined ceiling tiles and soaked carpets were also replaced. The painters went through the building and the CREA staff moved back into their offices.
The most important take-away from this whole event has been the attitude and can-do spirit of everyone on the CREA staff. The communications department needed to move its entire operation into another part of our building because of the number of leaks overhead, but the staff did not skip a beat in continuing to publish this magazine and produce the other communication products it is responsible for.
The entire staff had to work around a variety of work crews and temporary obstacles as they continued to provide the services your co-op depends on. Nobody complained about the inconveniences and everyone showed great patience and flexibility in dealing with these unusual circumstances. Despite the last three months of employees being displaced, repair crews filling our hallways and the constant sound of construction, CREA staff continued to provide the support services your co-op and the other 21 distribution co-ops throughout the state depend on.
To make things even more interesting, we have a new construction crew in the office remodeling the kitchen. Originally, this was the only construction project planned for this summer, but the project was pushed back once the hailstorm hit. Now we are back on track and have a couple more weeks of hammering and equipment noise. But we’re excited about the improved functionality that will result from the updated kitchen and serving area. These improvements will allow CREA staff to better serve the ongoing employee and director classes that we provide for our member co-ops throughout the year, as well as facilitate the multiple meetings that are hosted in the building.
Thankfully, the construction is almost done. Those of us who work for your trade association will remember the summer of 2017 as the “Summer of Flying Dust.”
For most of our members, our crazy summer will not be noticed at all. The services we provide continued throughout the summer. Education classes went on as scheduled, our legislative team continued to meet with legislators and policymakers and our safety and loss control team kept up with its visits to the co-ops. And Colorado Country Life showed up in your mailbox, on time, each month like clockwork. The mantra of CREA’s employees this summer reminds me of a line from the movie “Ghostbusters”: “We ain’t afraid of no dust!”