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Mount St. Mary’s Averts Damage from Remnants of Hurricane Ida

Donna Klinger

flooding 2021 Bradley

July 22, 2018 is a red-letter day in the 213-year history of Mount St. Mary’s University not only because significant flooding resulted in a nearly $350,000 insurance claim but also because the event led the university to undertake multiple improvements in its stormwater management plan. Those multi-pronged improvements helped the Mount to avert any injuries or significant damages as the remnants of Hurricane Ida unloaded a deluge on Mary’s Mountain on September 1.

flood-cleanup-september-2021.jpegFewer than 24 hours after the storm ended, the four buildings where a few inches of water entered were dry, and debris had been cleaned up. “I am really proud of our physical plant and public safety teams and the care that they displayed in ensuring the safety of the Mount community,” said William E. Davies, vice president for business and finance. “I’d also like to congratulate our students for volunteering to help and being respectful of the situation.” The physical plant team includes the university’s maintenance, grounds and custodial services offices.

Following the  July 22, 2018, flood, the physical plant and accounting and financial affairs offices analyzed how water comes off the mountain and made multiple improvements to the stormwater management plan, including installation of jersey barriers, rebuilding of the stormwater management pond above Purcell Hall and the stream to the large drainage cattle grate behind Bradley Hall, improvements to frequently flooded buildings such as the Terrace residence halls and the Seminary, and purchase of NOAQ Boxwall freestanding temporary flood barriers. Renovation of frequently flooded areas of buildings included installation of walls and floors made of materials that would not be compromised by moisture. The university also replaced riprap at strategic locations to prevent erosion and reduce the damaging impact of water flow.                 

During the September 1 storm, the new systems worked well, and staff were prepared for torrential rain. For example, staff at the wastewater treatment plant preplanned to successfully prevent storm water from infiltrating and overwhelming the wastewater system and the grounds crew strategically placed Boxwall barriers to direct runoff. After many hours of very heavy rain, the stormwater management pond became overwhelmed, and sheets of water rushed down Mary’s Mountain onto the northwest side of campus breaching the jersey barricades. The release of water to the area behind Terrace and the Seminary was purposeful to alleviate the flooding building up behind Terrace, which rapidly disappeared as the rain slowed and staff shored up our flood barriers and cleared drains that had become clogged during the flash flood.  

Most of the flash flooding occurred outside in the Bradley and Pangborn parking lots and University Way, but small amounts of water also entered the basement mechanical room of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the first floor of the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center and nonresidential areas of the Terrace and Pangborn residence halls. Sump pumps and wet vacuuming in those buildings quickly removed the water.

Damages were so minimal that Vice President Davies does not foresee the need to file an insurance claim. The university will analyze the response to Hurricane Ida, which may result in more improvements. Whatever the report finds, Vice President Davies will remain proud of the team’s work in this emergency. “Everything that the team did prior to, during and after the event was executed in a very professional manner.  The entire Mount community is blessed to have such dedicated staff with their hard efforts and dedication on display during this challenging event," Davies said.

Donna Klinger