People and Stories–Colorado State University Recovers from Flood (Number 5)

Thinking of a different kind of breakfast? How about Cheerios by candlelight for 1,000?

That was the scene for food service workers at the Durrell Center early Tuesday morning, the day after the flood.

"I was the first one there and it was pitch black," said Pat Palumbo, food service worker who starts a new job today as a cook at Ingersoll Hall. "I had no idea there’d been a flood until a maintenance worker clued me in."

Candles–"loads of candles"– were taken out of storage and distributed throughout the kitchen and dining areas.

"It was challenging, especially considering we had to sterilize equipment and wash our hands in just a couple of pots, but the staff did beautifully," she said. "It’s really important to keep your sense of humor."

Norma Long, food service manager at Durrell, said the storeroom was destroyed, but kitchen facilities were intact and functional.

"We had to feed conference people who had spent the night in Moby, so they were uncomfortable to begin with," she said. "But luckily the electricity came on around 5:20 a.m., so at least we could see what we were doing."

Steam was unavailable at Durrell for about a week, Long said, which increased the challenge of serving food to thousands of people.

"There’s been frustrating moments, but we’re doing the best we can," Long said. "Everybody kicked into high gear and really came through under unusual circumstances. Our staff takes such pride in what they do."

"You could look at it as romantic," Palumbo said. "How many times do you have breakfast by candlelight?

"It was exciting to see if we could get it done and done right. And we did."