Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More about Flood Recovery

This past year both Sahel Academy and our Bible School campuses have undergone major amounts of work.  As you remember, both campuses were flooded, resulting in the need for clean-up and restoration.  As anybody who has done renovations knows, repairs on on thing often reveals the need for repairs on something else.  So the work on the campuses has resulted in not just cleaning walls and replacing damaged furniture, but also in replacing some septic tanks, re-wiring buildings, re-roofing two buildings, and repairing the telephone system.  The dining hall at Sahel Academy was re-roofed, the ceiling raised, the outside stuccoed, and was renamed Hope Hall.  You can see it in the center right of this picture.  

There is still a lot to be done....inside Hope Hall the kitchen is still gutted, the electric isn't working quite right, the sound booth isn't finished.  This house on the Bible school campus is another one that ended up needing extensive work beyond the damage caused by the flood.  As you can see there is still a lot to be done here, but at least the roof is back on now.

One of the major aspects of restoring these campuses to their proper use has been the building of a berm on the river sides of the campuses.  We have security walls surrounding both campuses and they did much to hold back the water, but they could take the pressure of the water only so long before caving into the force of the water.  Thankfully the entire wall didn't come down, but enough fell to open the floodgates, so to speak.

So, a berm has been built to reinforce the wall.  A missionary who had to evacuate from another country due to the political situation there was able to come and give us eight or nine months of his time.  What a great example of God using a difficult situation in his life to turn it into something good!  He has been the perfect person to oversee this job.  Not only that, but his wife has been teaching so we've benefited from her talents as well!

We recently spent a fascinating evening with this couple, listening to him talk about the construction of the berm.  I'm no engineer but if I understood correctly, the wall will move to a certain extent when the ground around it contracts or expands.  Normally that's ok, but when water pushes against it, it is forced to move too much and down it goes.  

So the berm will support it.  Basically the berm is a shorter wall built inside the security wall, then filled with dirt.  I don't remember all the reasons why, but you can't just fill it with any old kind of dirt....again, something to do with contracting and expanding.  If you fill it with laterite (is that a French word or do you understand what I mean?!), it absorbs the water when it rains and then it expands, filling in all the gaps nicely.  But then in the dry season it contracts leaving big gaps.  You also can't use most of the dirt around here because it is clay and it will do a similar thing.  So, it has to be sand.  

They actually used both laterite and sand.  So, the laterite surrounds the edges of the berm with the sand in the center and some laterite on top.  If you want the real explanation, you'll have to ask our resident engineer! I obviously have little idea what I'm talking about! 

The flood we had last year was a 100-year flood.  None of us who have been here 20+ years have ever seen either of those campuses flood (yes, we have some areas that get very wet and soggy, but not a bona fide flood).  Perhaps there will not be another flood for another 100 years.  But should there be another flood, this would protect our properties from receiving the debilitating damage we got this year.  And we sure don't want to take our chances!

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