Caf Profile: Chef Dave

Interviewer: How were you impacted by the ice storm? 

Dave: Transportation mostly. I didn’t make it here the first two days because everywhere from my house was either up a hill or down a snaky curvy road, and I didn’t feel like ending up in a ditch anywhere. So, the real heroes on those days were Amy Abbott and Sarah Walker and Jiminski Lawrence. They came in and took care of everything.  

Interviewer: What was working like? What changes had to be made to how you prepared meals? 

Dave: Once we got in here, it was pretty much a normal day to day kind of thing. We had power. At the time, we had water that progressively got worse. The power always stayed here That and just getting people to be able to get in because of the roads. That was the biggest problem.  

Interviewer: From your perspective, what was going on? 

Dave: People not really knowing how to deal with the situation. I’ve been through several [disasters] on the campus because I’ve been here for that long. One time, we had to stay down at the old Cabot Lodge because we knew a storm was coming, and we needed people to be closed. Difficulty in getting trucks with supplies on them in was kind of a logistical nightmare: I would say I turned in our order, and you should have a truck Monday. Well, Monday came, and they were like roads were too nasty and we can’t get food in. Ok. We altered the menu, and it’s whatever we had available is what we used to come up with the menu that way. And as long as people got to eat food, and they were fat and happy, then we were good.  

Interviewer: What was it like on campus? What did an average day look like? 

Dave: A lot slower than normal. And then the constant running around trying to figure out what you were going to do, and how you were going to get something. Whether your truck’s going to actually show up the next day. We got pushed back for like a whole week before they had actually let one get on the road. They have their rules too for their drivers. But other than that, it was kind of a normal day. Everybody just moved at a slower pace because nothing was going on.  

Interviewer: Take me through your experiences. Do you have any memories you’d like to share? 

Dave: The first two days of not being able to get here were hard because you feel like you’re letting your team down; you can’t get in. And that’s only happened like once or twice of the thirty something years [years he has worked here]. They handled it; they did a great job. And then I got in here on Wednesday, and we all pulled together and calmed everything down from what was kind of going on and rolled on through it. The biggest thing was the water issue. That was a joy to go through. I mean, we drained every spot that we could think of here to get water, and then we would boil that water. And then they would bring us water to do stuff with. I was able to buy gallon jugs of water in cases, and we used that to cook with and things like that. And when those were empty, those of us who lived in like Madison would take those cases of empty jugs home and fill them up with water, recap it, and bring it back up here so that we would have water. 

Interviewer: Do you have any takeaways from this experience? 

Dave: I mean, I wish it never would have happened. That would be one. No, because I mean, I’ve done it before. Being the years behind me, the other ones have been here, but they haven’t been through many disaster situations as a few of us have. It just gets to be like okay; we are in emergency mode. We can only do this, or we can do this. And then it just kind of kicks in. Because you got to look at it like nothing lasts forever, and we’ll get through this too. And everybody will fuss and carry on and whatever, and then they’ll calm down, and we’ll get through it. And we’ll be fine. And that’s exactly what this college did. We got through it.  

Interviewer: What do you think should be done, if anything, in the future? 

Dave: One thing, power wise, I wish somebody would donate some money to where essential spots like us to be able run coolers and freezers, say the electricity goes out. We’ll have a backup generator. The other one, if we could be like one of the hospitals that have their own well system; then we’d have water. But that would cost lots of money. And I don’t have that. Sorry. But other than that, I mean, the communication was good. Everybody kind of knew what was going on. I mean enough to keep them settled. Those are the only two really big things. Other than that, we just rolled.  

Interviewer: Anything else you’d like to add? 

Dave: I want to thank all the heads of the emergency management team for doing their thing and getting the word out and working a plan up. And all of my staff in the back doing the job that they did and some days it was a little rougher than others because everybody got tired of not having the water but y’all did too. But everybody kind of pulled together there, and we made it and, we’re kind of back to normal.