By Megan Herrera
University officials are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of their students and staff during the hazardous flooding occurring on and around campus. Students are being asked to be mindful of their decisions and to check their email for any important updates and safety precautions sent from Public Safety.
“We have been closely monitoring the situation both downtown and on campus. In addition to the campus alerts sent to the entire campus community, we have been communicating special messages to our students living off-campus,” said Susan Lantz, Dean of Students.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Bull Run Creek overflowed and flooded Sixth Street, endangering students and professors who live downtown. Professor Alf Siewers was forced to move boxes and furniture to higher ground after being warned of an inundation that will most likely encircle his house and swallow his basement entirely. “It’s a reminder of the power of nature in our lives, and how those larger contexts of life can interrupt our bubbles of routine very definitively and unexpectedly at times,” he said.
In order to deal with these unexpected situations, Chief of Public Safety Jason Friedberg called an Emergency Management Group meeting late in the afternoon and scheduled one for the following Thursday morning. They were able to collaborate with the Dean of Students offices and spend some of their evening helping students on Sixth Street with any assistance.
Administration also opened the Elaine Langone Center (ELC) that night so students could have a “safe, dry place to study and socialize.” Students have been helpful by offering their own homes to their peers, and Office of Housing Services will be working closely with students who need long-term housing.
The Bucknell Rowing Teams also took precautions on Tuesday and evacuated their boats from the boat house located at the split of Route 15 and 11, border lining the Susquehanna. Their boats are now on higher grounds in a parking area next to the road because the river level is expected to rise six feet above the boat house floor. “Instead of lifting weights, we lift boats. It’s become a part of our training,” Stephanie Wyld ’14 stated.
The Daily Item announced that the Lewisburg area of the Susquehanna River could reach four feet above flood stage by today, up to 22.2 feet.
“It’s jaw dropping to think about the amount of water it takes to cause something like this. Not to mention the damage that has already been caused, and apparently it’s supposed to get worse! I’m glad everyone is okay,” Wes Pyron ’12 said.
From emails to an increased presence of Public Safety on campus, students are being notified of any changes, precautions and warnings. On Monday, students at Bucknell West experienced streams of water that were river-like. The tunnel connecting the main campus to Bucknell West has also been covered completely by water and is currently closed.
Seven years ago, in Sept. 2004, Hurricane Ivan created similar flood conditions on the streets of Lewisburg after a total of 5.45 inches of rain. From Sunday to Wednesday, Lewisburg experienced 7.67 inches of rain. This does not compare to the 19 inches of rain produced in June of 1972, when Hurricane Agnes caused the Susquehanna to rise to 34 feet.
An assistant at Public Safety recalled June 24, 1972 as the day she lost everything at the age of seven from Hurrican Agnes. This storm will not produce the amount of rain Hurricane Agnes did, but this flood is nothing to take lightly, she said.
Public Safety is doing everything possible to make students feel safe, she said. Officers are guarding roads and constantly circling campus, and they have increased their hours to include 12-hour shifts. They have warned students to not walk, drive or swim where water levels have increased.