Flooding in Cravens Hall displaces students

The last thing junior nursing major and Resident Assistant Nik Clark expected to happen on a Tuesday morning was to wake up to the sound of water dripping in his room. He got up from bed, put his feet on the ground and realized the floor of his dorm room was covered with water. Clark quickly went into RA mode and began waking up the other men residing in the basement of Cravens. Clark and others tried scooping water into the drains of the bathroom, but to no avail.

Residents in the basement of Cravens were flooded out of their dorm rooms on April 3 around 5 a.m. after Indianapolis received record-setting rainfall that night, according to the National Weather Service. Backed up storm drains caused the water to pour through the basement windows, according to Executive Director of Facilities Management Layne Maloney. Clark estimated there was about an inch of standing water was on the floor.

Residents of the basement camped out in  Cravens lobby while Student Affairs figured out temporary living arrangements for the students, according to Clark. He said about 50 residents were displaced as a result of the flooding. Some Students were relocated to empty rooms in other residence halls, including East, Warren and Roberts. But because of limited capacity, others stayed in the Holiday Inn on East Street or at home. Students’ families were notified of the incident in order to confirm appropriate accommodations, according to Clark.

As of Sunday, April 8, students were expected to return to Cravens on Tuesday, April 10, but there was a possibility that their stay would be extended because of unexpected damage, Maloney said.

About 20 students were relocated to the hotel, according to Clark. Part of the process for deciding the placements required Clark to determine who could commute back and forth between the campus and the hotel. Residents who did not have a car to commute were placed in other dorms, and everyone who stayed at the hotel had a means of transportation to campus. Clark said he believes that university has done a good job at accommodating the residents.

“[They] made sure the accommodations that they are giving us were appropriate and that we would be reimbursed for all our stuff,” Clark said. “The day it happened, they bought us all lunch. The plan right now is to provide dinner for the residents for a few nights, just for the convenience factor. The university is doing a pretty good job trying to accommodate us because they realize that it’s put us in a difficult situation.”

According to Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli, UIndy’s main priority is making sure affected students feel they are being taken care of.

“We’re working hard to make sure that we’re staying in communication with the students and with families and will continue to do that until the time [when] they get back into their rooms,” Vitangeli said.

Clark and Cravens RA and sophomore engineering and computer science major Chase Frazier were responsible for all the residents in the basement. According to Clark, flooding is something for which RAs are not trained, but he said training for every situation is impossible.

“It’s something that we were not planning for,” Clark said. “So you can’t really ever be prepared for a situation like this, and so it’s all of us thinking on our toes.”

Clark said he is responsible for the men staying in the hotel and is acting more as a liaison between the hotel and the university for the residents. Although circumstances have changed, Clark said that his responsibility as an RA has not. He is still expected to work the desk at Cravens and enforce the rules at the hotel.

According to Maloney, Moore Restoration Incorporated sent a crew within half an hour of the basement beginning to flood, but because of the continuous rainfall, the company ran into issues, such as not being able to get all the water out of the basement until the rain subsided. Students were encouraged to box up their personal items, and furniture was moved to the center of the room to assess the drywall of the basement.

Moore Restoration removed the baseboards from the drywall in all the rooms to ensure all the moisture was out of the walls so that no mold growth would occur, according to  Maloney. However, Maloney said, more damage was done than originally suspected. Twelve inches of drywall had to be cut out because of water damage and must be replaced, patched and painted before students can return to their rooms.

“When the water comes down that quickly, it’s really just an act of God that you can’t do anything to prepare for or prevent,” Maloney said.  “When something like this happens, the more quickly you can respond, the better your efforts are to be able to contain it and get it remediated.”

Some personal items were also damaged during the flooding. According to Maloney, expenses for renovations will come from the University of Indianapolis’ insurance, but does not cover the expenses for personal items that were damaged. Maloney said the university will reimburse students for personal damages. There is no exact estimate of how much the damages will cost the university, but Maloney said the amount will be substantial.

Freshman finance major Michael Knutson was one of the students whose property was damaged during the flood. Knutson’s wireless keyboard was on the floor when the flood happened.

“My roommate actually woke me up… and said there was water coming in through the windows,” Knutson said. “At first, I didn’t believe him, but as I got out of bed and put my foot on the ground, the ground was wet.”

Knutson said that the morning of the flood was stressful for him and, while he is thankful that the university is being accommodating, he was a little frustrated the day of the incident due to lack of communication.

“Tuesday, when it happened, was really stressful,” Knuston said. “We were told that we would know around 2 o’clock that we would know when we would be moving. And we weren’t told until around 5 or so. And so in the process that entire day, I was more worried about this. I probably should’ve gotten more studying in, but I wasn’t able to. I didn’t go to a class or two because I thought, ‘Hey, I should stay here so I can move all my stuff’ but we weren’t told at 2. . . .they didn’t tell us just [to] be patient and keep waiting, so that was a little bit frustrating.”

However, Knutson said he understands that the university was trying its best with the limited resources available.

Like Knutson, freshman business administration major Myles Cunningham missed his classes that day. The water from the hallway flooded Cunningham’s room rather than pouring in from his windows as it did in other rooms.

“I didn’t know how to react, but we found it funny. We started playing songs to go with the water,” Cunningham said. “At first, we didn’t have any water in our room. I said, ‘I’m gonna go back to bed.’ Well, I didn’t get to go back to bed.”

Despite all that happened that morning, Clark said that the residents made the best of the situation by playing in the water and sliding down the hallway on tote tops. Cunningham said when water started coming into his room, as a joke, he played “Drowning” by Kodak Black and was having a good time with his friends.

“The guys handled it really well,” Clark said. “I couldn’t have asked the building to have handled it any better… Of course it’s going to be a minor setback. They’re taking it in stride.”