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On Parenting
Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012

A derecho debt ditty

The derecho damage is not yet behind all of us. Take it from this ditty:

“With temps in the red, derecho storms bred,
Wreaking havoc that’s hard to believe.
Like many in town, our business shut down
But from bills we have no reprieve.
We emptied our freezers and our backs suffered seizures
From hauling out branches and leaves
Our computers they crashed, our AC was trashed
Our phone lines made quiet by debris.
Arts camp in the dark might seem like a lark
But unsafe — so hundreds stayed home.
Our actors were stranded, while staff single-handed
Attempted to put on a show.
We had this to confound: with no lights and no sound
To audiences we had to say, ‘no.’
Derecho clouds spilled, so our seats went unfilled
While trouble and bills still accrue.
We tried to be smart and we hate to lose heart
But is there anything more we can do?
We are now up the creek and need in mere weeks
New funding to help us stay stable.
As skies turn to blue, so we turn to you
With a request to please help if you’re able?”

That’s the plea sent out to subscribers of Imagination Stage, the popular Bethesda Arts center that took a beating from the storm.

According to Kate Taylor Davis, the director of external relations, the center’s fiscal year closes at the end of next month and the power outages ended up costing the group at least 2 percent of its budget. That “doesn’t seem like much, but when you get a big surprise like this at the end of your year, you don’t have a lot of time to make it up,” Davis wrote to me after I asked about the organization’s predicament.

How did the storm end up costing the group so much? Here’s how (in prose much less artistic than above:)

Power went out Friday, June 29, just after !0:30 a.m. Pepco could not provide an estimate of when it might return. (Sound familiar?)

Imagination's planned weekend stagings of “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” were sold out but had to be cancelled. The late cancellation meant performers had to be paid, while no revenue was collected.

Between the two show cancellations, the group lost $34,000.

Since staffers didn’t know when power would return, they canceled summer camps at the main facility and at satellite facilities for part of the week, which cost an additional $5,000.

Plus, the HVAC chiller lost power, which led to physical damage.

Then there were the loose ends: A Sunday class had to be cancelled; the gift shop was shuttered during what would have been a high-traffic weekend and all that pricey café food had to be trashed.

When the power came back on Monday morning, the costs had mounted to the tune of $45,000.

There’s also the incalculable cost to the center’s reputation. “We certainly disappointed some families,” said Davis. “We are hoping that this does not have a long-term effect on our relationships and audience building.”

Though, perhaps, area families who also endured the Derecho might be more understanding. Evidence of this has already filtered in.

Since the plea went out, Imagination has received 64 donations for a total of $4,374.

Not enough to cover the cost, but at least a generous touch.

.

Related Content:

Derecho: Behind Washington, D.C.’s destructive thunderstorm

Heat and storm damage translate into parental power outages

When power’s out, what’s gained is sometimes more than what’s lost

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012

 
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