WOOSTER, Ohio -- Authorities gathered at Ohio State University's campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center on Friday to assess the damage done by a suspected tornado that ripped through the campus Thursday evening.
"Obviously, this is a devastating loss to this beautiful campus and the Wooster community, but also to the many people who have put a lot of time and effort making this place a great institution," said E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University as he toured the campus Friday afternoon. "I'm impressed by the resilience of our people who are already looking to the future, to recovery. It shows the strength of the Ohio State spirit."
Earlier, during a press conference, Bobby Moser, vice president and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, remarked that most importantly, the storm brought no major personal injuries, but the damage to the campus was "severe."
"WeÃ¢â¬â¢ve had damage to many of our buildings and major damage to two of our buildings: the Agricultural Engineering building and to research operations," the campus's main administrative building, Moser said. "Some of our greenhouses took a direct hit, and there has been devastating damage to Secrest Arboretum. Some of these trees have been here a long time."
Ken Cochran, Secrest director, vowed to re-establish the arboretum: "What can we do? WeÃ¢â¬â¢ve got to rebuild."
Moser focused on the fact that despite so much damage, "The key thing is no one was injured. You look at this and you say how can this be? But everyone is accounted for. Ã¢â¬Â¦ Facilities we can replace. We can't replace people."
Added U.S. Rep. John Boccieri of the 16th district, "Our thoughts and prayers were answered -- no one here was injured."
Mayor Bob Breneman of Wooster, expressed support for OARDC, one of the city's largest employers: "WeÃ¢â¬â¢ll do everything in our power to get you back up and running." Earlier this year, OARDC won the Wayne Economic Development CouncilÃ¢â¬â¢s 2009 Quality Growth Award-Wooster for its technological and economic development efforts.
Moser said the sum total of damages won't be known until a full assessment is completed, but expressed gratitude for the professionalism of emergency crews: "I want to thank the first responders. I got here at 8 oÃ¢â¬â¢clock last (Thursday) night and they were already in control. A command center was set up, the campus was locked down. It was truly a team effort, and we appreciate it."
The neighboring campus of the college's two-year Agricultural Technical Institute evaded damage, but as of Friday afternoon, power still had not been restored; ATI canceled move-ins of students that were scheduled for Saturday. Sunday move-in and Welcome Days activities will proceed, and the campus plans to hold the first day of classes as planned on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
One graduate student at OARDC suffered a minor injury during the storm. No animals were injured.
OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.