Summer Floodin’

 

 

Nancy Ng

On Tuesday, June 27, excessive rainfall caused Payne Creek and Taylor Lake to flood, necessitating the evacuation of students living in Creative Arts House (CAH), Newell and University Court Apartments. “The storm was the first of three predicted fronts,” Director of Campus Safety Gary Bean said. “Fortunately, the second and third fronts missed us and the first spared us from the more severe flooding experienced by neighboring cities like Binghamton.” Characterizing the event as a “manageable crisis,” Bean asserted that each situation unfolded in time increments reasonable enough to enable his department to respond. Aware of the potential danger of flooding, Campus Safety routinely monitored the rising water level. When Bean’s survey of the creek between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. revealed that it had already reached its crest, vehicle owners were promptly notified to move their cars out of the direct path of the rapidly rising Taylor Lake. “From the porch of CAH, I could see water flowing out of the lake,” sophomore Andra Bratu recalled. “The boys from 94 Broad brought an inflatable boat so we had fun sailing on the waves. But then I became worried when I went inside to do laundry and saw that water was getting into the basement.” Within two hours, the parking lot was flooded, making evacuation of CAH and the occupied apartments located behind it imperative. Campus Safety relocated the 24 Colgate students housed in CAH, roughly 123 campers and staff members residing in the University Court and Parker apartments, as well as 10 Eastern U.S. Music Camp staffers living in Cushman House. “Readily available key cards allowed us immediate access to the Townhouses so we were able to resettle [CAH’s] students quickly,” Bean said. “Students were told to pack a pillow and a blanket and provided with dinner and food for the next day’s breakfast.” “The entire [basketball] camp had to be moved, and given the extreme rain and number of closed roads we elected to have them move (some wading in water past their knees) to Sanford Field House for the night,” Summer Programs intern Kevin Neely ’03 said. “Campers brought pillows, blankets and whatever else they could carry to the Field House and slept on the turf floor.” This situation proved inconvenient for participants in the All-American Boys’ Lacrosse Camp as well, who, although their housing was not affected, could practice neither in the flooded outdoor fields nor in the occupied Sanford Field House. The following day, Campus Safety permitted students to return to the still flooded CAH, as well as the apartments, to retrieve items needed for an extended stay in the Townhouses or in East Hall. “We were unsure of how long we would have to stay in the townhouse, so my friends and I went back to get things. We had to wade through moving water to get pots and pans and food,” Bratu said. “The night before, some boys with a car also brought back a T.V., an X-Box, and some games to share.” Over the next few days, Buildings and Grounds and additionally hired contractors worked on pumping water out of the flooded basements. Basketball camp ended the next morning, but CAH residents did not return to their summer rooming assignments until three days later. Despite the circumstances created by the flood, campus facilities remained functional and students and faculty were able to immediately resume their normal work activities. Several roads, however, needed to be closed due to flooding: Route 12B, Payne, Spring, Hamilton and College Streets had to be closed at various times. “For the first time in history, Oak Drive needed to be turned into a lane for two-way traffic,” Bean said. “Campus Safety officers had to be positioned at several points to route traffic and ensure that particularly large vehicles passed through the narrow drive smoothly.” A post-flood assessment revealed extensive damage in Newell and CAH. Carpets needed to be ripped out and replaced, cabinets and appliances needed to be dried and put back or replaced entirely. Flood repair became a major priority to ensure that the buildings were ready for residents returning for the fall semester. Despite the efforts of Buildings and Grounds, CAH’s basement is still in need of repairs. Damaged walls have been removed but new walls have yet to be installed. “There used to be a stage used for student theater and murals painted on the walls,” senior Community Coordinator of CAH John Slefinger said. “We can rearrange the disheveled furniture ourselves, but not having a stage for this weekend’s performance is an inconvenience. I know that Buildings and Grounds is busy with other projects but this is a group space and a lot of groups do use this room for events.”