PLATTSBURGH — Emotions were mixed at the Kent-Delord House as news of a tornado warning crackled across the historical re-enactment site Saturday.
“We’re not running from the storm,” said Yvette Clark, a re-enactor and vendor encamped in a large, white cloth tent on the front lawn of the Plattsburgh museum. “We’re just going to batten down the hatches. We’re putting away anything that could be blown away, we’re pegging the corners of the tent, and we’re just going to try and wait it out.”
Business seemed to go on as usual throughout the sprawling 1814 military encampment early Saturday evening as the anticipated storm approached. Re-enactors mingled with spectators, discussing historical events and explaining displays, even while the enormous trees backing the Kent-Delord property swayed ominously in the growing wind. From one tent, a small group in period garb could be seen huddled around a battery operated weather radio, listening to an update from the national weather service.
“I don’t think the weather’s going to be that severe,” said Dan Koshinsky, a re-enactor from Jericho, Vt., as he stood over a display of surgical implements from the 1700s. “I think that this is a pretty well-protected area. From what I’ve seen, winds have been a lot worse over by the lake.”
The safety of the roughly 175 re-enactors and 25 or so volunteers on-site was definitely on the mind of Kent-Delord House board member Donna Bell, as she circulated through the crowd discussing the upcoming weather warnings.
“I don’t know what we’ll do ... they’re out there in tents. We’re praying a lot,” she said.
Bell discussed the possibility of bringing people into the 215-year-old house-turned-museum and waiting out the storm if a tornado materialized. She said the board would likely meet soon to come up with contingency plans for the evening ahead.
“We feel like it’s one of those crazy things. That’s not been voted in (bringing people inside), but if lives are at stake: yes.”
As the sky darkened and rain started to play across cloth tent-roofs, the activity level picked up, as volunteers hurried to serve a hot dinner to Colonial and British armies alike. Flags were hauled in and tent flaps tied. Hammers could be heard pounding additional tent stakes into the ground.
Across the Cumberland Avenue railroad overpass, City Police dismantled barricades as the remainder of the day’s scheduled events were canceled and City Hall Place was re-opened.
“When you do historical re-enactments, you expect these things to happen. We’ve gone through some very bad events, we’ve gone through some interesting ones,” said Clark, making a point to knock on the nearest piece of wood she could find as she spoke.
Her guarded optimism seemed the rule of the day. As the wind and rain continued to pick up, and onlookers headed for the safety of their cars, re-enactors seemed more interested in dinner than the oncoming weather.
“We just hunker down and get through it. We’ve done it before,” Koshinsky said.
The encampment is scheduled to run through today.