2009 Flood Anniversary
Overall Flood Statistics
- 92 university-owned buildings affected (plus Cardinal Station, Humana Gym [both owned by UofL Foundation], Dismas House and Tafel [both leased properties])
- 73 Belknap Campus buildings affected
- 19 HSC buildings affected
- 4 non-UofL buildings affected
- $20.9 million* total UofL claims (buildings and their contents)
- $18.1 million total Belknap Campus building claims
- $491,000 total HSC Campus building claims
*Numbers that exceed $1 million have been rounded.
Largest amount of damage (by total claim amount**)
- $5.8 million Houchens Building
- $4.5 million College of Business
- $2.1 million Chemistry Building
- $907,966 College of Education
- $893,360 School of Music
- $882,893 Crawford Gym
- $627,761 Fairfax Building
- $567,222 University Club
**Total claim amount includes the building itself plus its contents
Flood has unexpected outcomes for some
At the time of the Aug. 4 flood, and for some time afterward, it was difficult to look beyond the sometimes difficult task of carrying on with business as usual to see what benefits could come.
As administrators and others found out later, however, there were some benefits that they could not have imagined. Here are some of their reflections:
Dale Billingsley, vice provost for undergraduate affairs
We were lucky that the storm broke in the early part of August, when the campus was preparing for the beginning of the new term but the summer terms were over and the fall term students had not yet arrived. The race to open the fall term orderly and on time brought out the best in the staff. Many whose personal lives were disrupted by the disaster were nevertheless quickly back on campus to clean, reorganize, relocate and prepare for the new term.
New networks of affiliation sprang up when offices ordinarily across campus from each other were suddenly working in close quarters - as happened, for instance, when the Houchens enrollment management offices moved to Strickler Hall to share space with Undergraduate Affairs and REACH. Those connections grew into better business practices and more open communication that have benefited students and the university as a whole since then.
Throughout the disaster and recovery, which stretched into the new calendar year, the magnitude of overall effort was overwhelming. The "It's Happening Heroes" of Physical Plant and the recovery leaders in other offices made such rapid progress through extraordinary commitments of time, effort and personal sacrifice, but even those whose lives returned to normal quickly offered uncounted acts of generosity, sympathy, support and heroism that kept us going through a dark time and remain the most uplifting memories of Aug. 4 and its aftermath. (Editor’s note: Admissions, financial aid and the registrar's offices are just some that fall under Billingsley's administration.)
Jenny Sawyer, director of admissions
It helped us all appreciate the jobs we all do so much better.
Nakia Strickland, admissions counselor
As I sit quietly in my office, which is filled with pictures, admissions binders and elephant figurines, I can't help but think back to this time last year. The lower level of the Houchens Building was filled with water and floating couches, chairs and tables. Everyone evacuated the building with large yellow trash bags wrapped around their legs and some were evacuated by boat.
As we walked through the high waters, we had no idea the impact the flood would have on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Over the span of approximately two months, our entire Office of Admissions staff was relocated to the third floor of Strickler Hall. The "big move" allowed us, as a staff, to work closer than we ever had before. No longer in our own individual offices, some rooms with as many as 12 people in them, we met and made phone calls with students, as well as prepared for the fall semester.
Although the flood was a disaster, it had a way of bringing the Office of Admissions closer together. As a staff, we were given the opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones and get to personally know our co-worker sitting next to us. We no longer bonded as co-workers, but as friends who work together. A year later, we have maintained that supportive bond that was gained during that trying time. We know that even when we have been hit with the hardest storm, we can overcome anything thrown our way if we work together and support one another.
Blake Haselton, interim dean, College of Education and Human Development
The flood was a very challenging event for the college, and it was shocking to see how so much damage could be done in such a short time.
This experience brought our faculty and staff together to work through the stress of relocating offices, files, technology, student support services and the everyday business of the college. We still managed to continue admitting and registering our students for the fall semester. The outpouring of support from faculty and staff on campus, as well as JCPS staff at Manual High School, contributed greatly to our success in relocating classes, students and personnel prior to the start of the fall term.
Due to the extensive damage to our building, we were among the last groups on campus to move back "home." Equipment was repaired or replaced because of water damage. We have since reassessed our emergency response plans for natural disasters and how to better communicate with our faculty, staff and students.
Crawford Gym, housing our exercise physiology program, also sustained flood damage to the basement area. Nearly all of our equipment and many CEHD research projects in that building were ruined by the flood waters. But through teamwork and quick response by the university administration and clean-up crews, we were able to move back into the building less than a month after the flooding.
Consistently, throughout the flood recovery effort, we were appreciative of the "can-do" attitude demonstrated by the UofL community.
Charlie Moyer, dean, College of Business
You can't walk into the College of Business without seeing lasting impacts of the flood. It's cleaner and brighter than ever before, and our repairs made the place more accessible and more secure. Out of the mud came the Texas Roadhouse Student Center and our new Bucks for Bricks campaign, which invites donors to upgrade classrooms, meeting rooms, common areas and offices with appropriate new technology, furnishings and décor. Just as important, advising and Ulmer Center staffs were temporarily relocated to the third floor, where they were discovered by the rest of the building, creating awareness and camaraderie that continues to grow. And if it ever happens again, we now have a digital recording of every office and classroom, so we know what needs to be replaced.
Mark Hebert, director, media relations
It was my third month on the job. I was still getting to know my staff when the flood hit. Boy, did I get to know them in a hurry! With the entire Office of Communications and Marketing staff flooded out of the Fairfax Building, all of the Web, internal and external communications people took refuge on the top floor of Grawemeyer Hall, turning my office and the conference rooms into a sweat shop for UofL communications workers.
In my eyes, it was beautiful! While we were cramped and stumbling over each other, there was a real sense of teamwork and camaraderie among the staffs. We weren't using e-mail or Blackberry phones to communicate; we'd look across the table or makeshift desk and talk face-to-face. All of us had a common goal - keep the university family, as well as the media, informed about the day-to-day flood clean up, class and office relocations and assistance for fellow employees. We became a closeknit team, and I learned more about Janene, Brandy, Judy, Cindy, Denise, Brad and the Web crew by being shoehorned into the same space with them for weeks - not that I want to do it again anytime soon!
John Drees, director of communications, Belknap Campus
My strongest memories of the flood involve the people who went way above and beyond that day and for weeks following. Physical Plant employees on no sleep wading chest deep into who knows what to address flooding in the CEHD basement. Communications and Marketing employees scrambling to gather information and post Web stories while evacuating their building and having to watch their cars disappear under water. Margaret Pentecost and Joe Dablow emailing back and forth at 1 a.m. as they tried to find rooms for displaced CEHD employees and classes.
These people were heroes. And after the initial disaster, it was rewarding to see so many people recognize their efforts and thank them for their work.
I also think back on the generosity of the faculty and staff who contributed to the "Restore UofL" campaign and the gratitude of the many employees who received some level of financial help through that program. “Restore UofL” showed the university could come together to help our colleagues who were struggling at work and at home.
Shirley Willihnganz, university provost
Many of our buildings have never looked better. For example, we probably would not have had funding to make the improvements to Crawford Gym that the extensive flood repair necessitated. We were also able to renovate labs that very much needed it in the Chemistry Building. Also, the flood brought people who worked in separate offices together, creating a sense of camaraderie that wasn't there before, but has lasted even as folks have moved back to individual offices. This is a long-term positive impact.
Message from Provost Willihnganz regarding flood
Flooding at Eastern Parkway and Third Street
Flooding at Floyd Street Garage
Flooding in Bursar's Office
Flood Stories: David James, UofL Police
Flood Stories: Kevin Condit, Information Technology
Flood Stories: Larry Hazelwood, UofL neighbor
Flood Stories: Charlie Moyer, Dean of the UofL College of Business
Flood Stories: Dwain Archer, UofL Fire Marshal
Flood Stories: Joe Dablow, Enrollment Management
Flood Stories: Larry Detherage, UofL Physical Plant
Campus Restoration: College of Business
Restore UofL: State representative donates to effort
"We are ready!"
UofL: Thank you for all your hard work