November 4, 2015
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8 NIV)
On the weekend of August 29-30, 2015, a highly unusual windstorm struck the Pacific Northwest with surprising fury. At its peak the storm knocked out power for more than 300,000 area residents. It also had a decidedly unanticipated consequence: the windstorm toppled a tree near the KCIS nighttime tower site in Mill Creek which in turn brought down one of our three towers, taking KCIS off the air.
Some brief background: originally CRISTA’s AM radio station, licensed as KGDN in 1954, was allowed to broadcast only during daylight hours. Then in 1984, the station now called KCIS received authorization to broadcast 24 hours a day. However, the Federal Communications Commission stipulated that, to avoid interference, our nighttime signal had to be reduced in power and electronically aimed away from other radio stations on the same frequency in cities like Kamloops, Boise, Denver and Portland. This necessitated a different tower site, with multiple towers. During the day KCIS broadcasts from the CRISTA campus in Shoreline, and at local sunset we switch to the Mill Creek site. After that windy August weekend, with one of our three towers crumpled on the ground, that Mill Creek site was suddenly unavailable. The only allowable alternative until we could effect repairs was to broadcast from the Shoreline campus at drastically reduced power – about that of a medium-strength light bulb!
The twisted steel in the photo at the right shows the complete destruction caused by the storm. While the tower itself, nearly 400 feet high, would have withstood the wind, a falling tree caught one of the cables called “guy wires” holding the tower up. This pulled the tower to earth in a twisting motion, leaving almost nothing of the tower standing. The red dot in the center is one of our tower lights.
We praise God that no one was injured and that no other property was damaged. Our other two towers remained intact. But in order to restore full coverage it would be imperative to rebuild the damaged tower as quickly as possible.
Fortunately KCIS carries insurance which covered the bulk of the six-figure replacement cost for the tower and its supporting cables. However, we quickly determined that KCIS would be responsible for a significant portion of the rebuilding expense. Along with a five-figure insurance deductible, there would be substantial personnel costs: the KCIS engineers would be spending many, many hours working with contractors, supervising the clearing of debris and the construction of the new tower, and calibrating the new equipment once it is installed. We estimate this tower collapse added more than $20,000 or more in unplanned expenses.
KCIS listeners like you immediately stepped up to meet the challenge. We contacted hundreds of listeners by letter and met with others in person. Over and over we heard the same report: “We love KCIS and will gladly give” – not only to help fund the daily operation of this vital radio ministry, but also to help restore what the wind had destroyed.
On October 7, 8 and 9, 2015, our Fall Pledge Drive set a fundraising record as listeners gave and pledged some $75,000. Praise God for the generosity and faithfulness of the KCIS Family!
Meanwhile the work of restoration continued. The first step after clearing away the remnants of the damaged tower was to order a new one, seen at left on the trailer about to leave the Sacramento, California factory where it was fabricated. The tower is built in sections, then trucked up Interstate 5 and bolted together at the Mill Creek site. After the tower was set in place, the process of re-wiring and testing could begin. This photo was taken October 16, 2015, about 7 weeks after the collapse.
The process of assembling and erecting the tower, hooking up the necessary equipment and making basic adjustments occupied the ensuing two weeks. Then on October 31, 2015, we received word from one of our KCIS engineers that the nighttime signal had been fully restored! The process from start to completion took two months.
The photo on the front of this report shows all three towers at full height against the backdrop of a blue October sky, with the KCIS signal restored to full licensed strength, both during the day and during the evening and overnight hours. Our speedy recovery from damaging winds was due to God’s grace and our listeners’ great generosity and prayer support!