On March 6, a tornado with peak winds of 150 miles per hour ripped through Seymour, Iowa, a town of approximately 700 residents. It blew the roof off two gymnasiums at the local elementary school, rendering the building unusable. The tornado was one of 10 tornados that touched down in Iowa that day.
Caleb Housh, mayor of Seymour, who lives only two blocks from the school, was grateful that there were no injuries, but in the aftermath, it was apparent that the damage to the school was extensive. “I was devastated,” Housh said. “I really was. But quickly I turned to, ‘Let’s get this thing cleaned up.'”
The townspeople and neighboring communities wasted no time in launching a new home for Seymour Elementary School. After the storm, Seymour residents, six fire departments and five busloads of high school students from nearby towns rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. As Seymour School Superintendent Brad Breon commented at the time, “We’re getting a lot of help, we’re getting a lot of phone calls, people coming to volunteer, and that’s great.”
The Seymour Industrial Corporation was among first to step in, offering to help convert one of its buildings, a former nursing home, into a new, temporary school.
To get the school operational, two leading Silicon Valley networking technology companies—Ruckus Wireless and Brocade—donated more than $50,000 in IT equipment. Jonathan Munford, director of technology, at neighboring New London School District, took the initiative and reached out to Bytespeed, a computer manufacturer headquartered in Moorhead, Minnesota, asking them if they would coordinate with Ruckus Wireless on an equipment loan to the Seymour Elementary School to carry the students and staff through the rest of the school year.
“Ruckus Wireless and Brocade came in and said, ‘We have the equipment and the know-how, and we’re coming over to set up your network—just like that!” said Seymour’s mayor.
Ruckus Wireless worked with Brocade, Bytespeed and eight technical directors from various school districts in the area. On March 10, the team of technicians collaborated on the installation of a new Ruckus Wireless network with Brocade switches to get the temporary school up and running. The system was ready to go with full Internet access by mid-March.
According to John Marousek, systems engineer at Ruckus Wireless, the implementation consisted of a Brocade ICX 7250 switch, a Ruckus ZoneDirector 3000 Controller and 14 Ruckus access points. The Ruckus ZD3000 Controller was the perfect solution for the school, which has a small IT staff. Easy to use and self-configurable, it can manage up to 500 ZoneFlex Wi-Fi access points (APs). The ZoneFlex R500 Wi-Fi access points that were installed provide high-speed connectivity and extended range, which means fewer APs are required.
Housh is deeply touched by the outpouring of help. “I don’t want to name names of people who’ve helped because I know there were so many, I’ll forget someone,” he said. “It’s brought our community together.”
The Wayne Community Foundation, a charitable organization, established the Seymour Disaster Relief Fund and is currently accepting donations for the community and the school. For more information, visit: Wayne Community Foundation.