Travis was leaving work from CROPP’s Cashton Distribution Center when he heard the HQ in La Farge was on fire.
“I called our Microsoft Lync Administrator, Samantha Peterson, and she told me that the fire was pretty bad. I decided that instead of going home, I would go to La Farge and see what I could help with.”
CROPPies who had to evacuate the HQ were gathered at CROPP’s original headquarters on Main Street, La Farge. It was about 5:30pm.
“When I got there, I heard IR Communications Director Chelsea Bjerkos had gotten some of the laptops out of the building,” said Travis, “And then Employment Manager Shawna Nelson pulled up with a bunch of them in her vehicle. People began sorting them and trying to figure out who’s they were. We put about 80 in my truck.”
He heard that some IT staff from the Network Operation Center (NOC) were going to be allowed in the burning building so he and eleven other people decided to go along and get more laptops. They went in twice under firefighter escort, grabbing as many laptops as they could carry, and hauling them down two and sometimes three flights of stairs.
“At the time, we didn’t know if the fire would spread to the east section, or if the building would be closed for weeks or months,” explained Travis, “So we grabbed as much as we possibly could. Lots of laptops and some cellphones.”
Coming out, they met NOC staff Jeremy Burkart and Randall Juenemann going in to look at the server room. Travis joined them. “It was amazing,” he marveled. “Everything in the server room was still running. It was still cooling and doing everything that it needed to do. We were all in shock.”
When Travis returned to Cashton with the laptops retrieved from HQ, there were already people waiting to unload them, sort them, and begin rebuilding smoke or water-damaged units. They kept at it until about 1:30 in the morning.
“Having the laptops made a tremendous difference. You think about how many people would’ve been down, how much business would’ve been down if they didn’t have those laptops to work on.”
Travis described the night as feeling like “mass chaos.” At one point he overheard Chief Mission Executive, Theresa Marquez, say that CROPP would come back from the fire stronger than ever. Her optimism stuck with him.
“I believed her,” Travis said. “There was not a doubt in my mind.