Severe thunderstorms took place all over New Hampshire on Friday, Oct. 21, including in our own college town of Durham. These storms quickly progressed into flash floods that impacted student safety, building structure and the overall UNH campus.
An emergency UNH alert was sent out at 10:33 p.m. on Friday reading, “Flooding in several areas of campus, dangerous road conditions due to flooding, stay off the roads and indoors.” The alert was certainly warranted as the weather was becoming increasingly dangerous. There was a threat to the safety of students who were en route to their next destinations, especially with the gravity of the lightning and extreme downpour. Consequently, the alert was sent in an attempt to prevent emergency situations from occurring.
Several UNH students said that they felt the degree of this rapidly increasing downpour not only outside their homes, but also right inside their dorms. Reports of flooding inside the dorms Engelhardt, the Minis and Gibbs were brought to attention.
“I wasn’t home when it happened, but apparently the basement flooded and some systems got overwhelmed,” sophomore chemical engineering major and Engelhardt resident Kristen Loose said.
On a positive note, the torrential downpour brought long awaited rain to this drought-stricken state. Over 2.9 inches of rain coated several towns of the Granite State, according to WMUR. Strafford County in particular is considered to be in an extreme drought, thus the rain brought some relief to our agriculture, streams and wildlife.
Regardless, the flash flooding did not come without negative repercussions. An initial concern of the highest priority was student safety on campus. In Eaton House, students and staff placed towels in front of room entrances. These towels were aimed to act as barriers in order to prevent the flooding spreading from hallways into residents’ rooms. Water eventually entered some residents’ rooms, displaying the inevitability of the flooding despite preventative efforts. Carpeted rooms, as in Eaton House, suffered the consequences of the building’s susceptibility to outdoor flooding. Water visibly seeped in the entryway of students’ rooms, soaking the carpets and creating puddle-like results.
Elsewhere on UNH’s campus, the Whittemore Center (Whitt) was also becoming visibly susceptible to the torrential downpour. At around 10 p.m. the loading dock was admitting some of the rain inside the building. According to junior civil engineering major Joshua White, it was in “the back corner of the Whitt where the Zamboni and everything else happens.”
White said that the flooding spread from the loading dock to the “blue line on the ice.” It also spread about halfway down the back hallway and didn’t cease until about 11:30 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 23, White said that the damage was not noticeable.
Further information is being collected in regard to the resulting damage that was done to the dorms, as well as what actions are being taken to fix and prevent the damage from occurring in the future.