Flooding a concern on campus; city parks closed after heavy rains


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Taylor Ballek/Staff Photographer Redford freshman Sabryna Groves walks back from class through a massive puddle due to flooding by recent weather conditions Thursday afternoon near the Fabiano Botanical Gardens.

The deluge of rain in Michigan the last two weeks has left some areas of Central Michigan University and Mount Pleasant under water.

Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of Facilities Management at CMU, said flooding is a concern at this point in the spring season with the increased rainfall.

“Because it has rained extensively, the ground is saturated, increasing the likelihood of flooding,” he said. “The intensity and duration of a rain event will determine if flooding occurs.”

Mount Pleasant had recorded about 1.69 inches of rain as of Thursday afternoon and was expected to receive another one to two inches Thursday night in addition to strong storms, according to The Weather Channel.

CMU’s One Room Schoolhouse experienced flooding Thursday afternoon, and the Industrial Education and Technology building suffered from ceiling leaks, though neither incidents were called into Facilities Management.

Lawrence said certain areas of CMU's campus are more susceptible to flooding and receive premium attention when flooding becomes a legitimate concern.

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Brooke Mayle/Assistant Photo Editor Grand Haven junior Brittany Hild passes a sand bag to St. Claire Shores senior Marie Morgan as they try to prevent the water from rising into the foundation Thursday afternoon at the CMU One Room Schoolhouse.

Areas more prone to flooding include the baseball locker room, Carey Dining Hall basement, Foust basement and the Student Activity Center Sports Forum.

“Every situation is different, and we respond to the areas with flooding and install pumps as required,” Lawrence said. "During periods of consistent rain similar to what we have been experiencing, areas prone to flooding are monitored.”

To combat the flooding, Facilities Management has four high-volume gas pumps and two electric submersible pumps.

Lawrence said costs for the pumps vary by time of day, though added costs are incurred based on the size of the pump and duration it’s used.

Sand bags have also been installed at a doorway at the SAC and various other parts of campus to prevent flooding.

Last summer, Facilities Management modified the storm sewer system, blocked in basement window openings in Foust Hall and raised the curb around an elevator pit that services the Carey Dining Hall basement to decrease the likelihood of flooding in these areas.

The last major flooding event at CMU occurred in Aug 2010, when there was approximately four inches of rainfall in two hours, causing flooding issues for 39 buildings on campus and sections of the utility tunnels. The cost of repairs from that flood was more than $1.7 million.

City of Mount Pleasant So far, the city of Mount Pleasant has only experienced minor flooding, which has been confined to the parks along the Chippewa River.

Chris Bundy, director of parks and public spaces, said the five parks along the river, including Island Park, Nelson Park and Chipp-a-waters Park, have been closed.

"There's a lot of water in the parks," Bundy said. "They take the brunt of flooding. When the wetlands fill up, they take the water when the Chippewa River gets higher than usual." Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Greg Waterhouse said, as of Thursday afternoon, the city had not received any reports of flooding in streets or buildings.

Waterhouse said he is in close contact with the National Weather Service, and they will be keeping an eye on the river's water levels.

The NWS has predicted the river to crest on Saturday, and Waterhouse said they are not expecting any widespread flooding.

However, if flooding does occur, the city has plans in place to deal with those situations.

"If roads do start flooding, we will close those and put out a public service announcement of what roads are closed," Waterhouse said. "If people do believe they are prone to flooding in their homes, they might want to get valuable things off the floors, especially in basements, to minimize damages."

Community Information Director Heather Smith said the Public Works Department is advising residents to make sure their storm catch basins are clear of leaves, sticks and debris.

Waterhouse said the parks will not reopen until the water recedes.


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