Dear Kodai Community,
I wanted to share an update on KIS and how we’re faring after the cyclone that passed through Kodaikanal yesterday.
The first and best news is that everyone is OK and in good spirits and the weather this morning is beautiful. I couldn’t be more proud of how all of us, students and staff, rallied together to stay safe and make the most of a scary and unsettling situation. The maintenance staff in particular were outstanding as they braved the elements to clear fallen trees and ensure access to Ganga campus and other areas of the school. Staff on both campuses did well to keep students safe, warm, and calm. We were responding all day to new situations as they developed and did our best to communicate information and instructions to our students, staff, and parents. I often say that KIS students are amazing and yesterday and today they have been proving me right. They have been patient, quick to follow instructions, and in many instances eager to help, at school and on their various compounds.
The unfortunate news is that six staff and/or staff families have been displaced and some homes have been destroyed. In addition to staff homes, we have sustained significant damage to school property. Trees have fallen on covered walkways, against buildings, atop cars, over compound walls, and across roads. The town of Kodaikanal is predictably now facing a diesel shortage so we are working to procure fuel from sources far and wide so that we can continue to run our generators. Transformers and generators have been damaged and there are houses and dormitories right now without electricity. We are also working to restore water to certain parts of the school. All of this will take more time and effort and we ask for your patience and support.
The heart-warming news is that, as always, our community has pulled together to support one another. Staff have welcomed displaced co-workers into their homes and are helping to clear debris and salvage personal belongings. Students are doing what they can to help, although for the time being we are trying to assess the damage and any remaining dangers before allowing our students to become involved in any major clean-up efforts. I was with a displaced staff member last evening and it was touching to witness how many students were calling him out of concern for his well-being. Some local parents were trapped at home, so their children spent the night in our dorms.
As bad as the damage has been, we are thankful because it could have been much worse. It is important to recognize that we have quite literally “weathered the storm” because of proactive planning and some foresight. Many trees that had posed a threat to dormitories were previously removed or topped, resulting in relatively little damage to student residences and significantly less risk to our students. Our maintenance staff have been well trained and were mobilized to take immediate and effective action. Also, from previous experience we knew that it was better to keep the school open and bring our students and staff to the relative security of our campuses and school facilities rather than leave isolated pockets of students in their dorms and potentially removed from access to food, water, means of communication, and medical care. In this regard I would like to recognize the boys of East House and the Bartlett Dorms for their patience into the evening as we waited for the storm to pass and assess the safety of East Hill, which sustained extensive damage.
No doubt, further lessons will emerge as a result of this storm and we are interested to receive any feedback that comes our way. We thank you for all of your prayers and support!
Warmly from Kodai,