The bike was a prescient addition. The road to the field lab was all but wiped out, with the exception of a narrow track wide enough for a bicycle. Hopper parked his truck and rode the bike to the lab.

The first order of business was to move smaller fish from the small tanks, which had been damaged by the storm, to the nearby ponds.

Fortunately, PCS Phosphate, which operates a large phosphate mine in the area, quickly built a new road into the field lab. Sullivan was able to drive to the field lab the day after the storm, as was a crew from Lake Wheeler.

Sullivan credited employees from the Lake Wheeler Road Field Lab in Raleigh with helping to restore power and clean up storm damage.

The Lake Wheeler crew, led by Richard Currin, facilities agricultural engineer, brought with them a 30 kilowatt surplus military generator. Sullivan said the Lake Wheeler road group, which included Ray Kavaliuauskas, Angel Cortez-Rodreguies and Aaron Moore in addition to Currin, arrived late in the afternoon the day after the storm.

But restoring power wasn’t a matter of cranking up the generator and inserting a plug in a socket. Sullivan said it was close to midnight before power was finally restored. He estimated that if the field lab had been without power for five more hours, all the fish in the larger tanks would have died.

The restoration of power averted a potential disaster, but was just the beginning of efforts to keep the field lab operational. Sullivan moved into a tent at the site, while the Lake Wheeler Road crew spent long days at the field lab, driving back to Raleigh in the middle of the night only to return the next morning. Sullivan’s students also worked to keep the field lab functioning.

During the days after the storm, generators were the only source of power, and they had to be continually refilled with diesel fuel. A second 60 kilowatt generator was eventually moved to the site.

Sullivan estimates damage to the field lab at $250,000, and there is still much to repair. But most of the fish survived, and the field lab is still functioning, thanks to the efforts of field lab employees and students.

“These guys,” says Sullivan. “These UFL (University Field Lab) guys and James Stallings, Mike and Andy, Richard Currin and his crew, my students; I was never more proud to play on NCSU’s team.”