August flash flooding left campus with sea of trouble


by Amber Cox
A large front passing by the East Coast dumped more than 7 inches of rain on  the Lawrenceville campus on Aug. 22.

The torrential rain on that day caused flooding in a number of places on campus, especially Alumni Gym. There was also slight damage in Cranberry’s and the parking lot by White Pines was covered in water. The bridge crossing over the lake was barely visible and the lake overflowed.

Senior Joe Rey witnessed the flooding because he was on campus for an alumni event at Sigma Phi Epsilon (SPE), which is located in University House.

“It started raining and we all moved inside,” Rey said. “Luckily, no one was living in the house at that time.”

The New Jersey government Web site lists the Little Shabakunk Creek as a state flood hazard. The stream that runs through Rider flows into this creek. The hazard is listed as “downstream of a point located 200 feet upstream of the driveway within Rider University.”

The Little Shabakunk runs into Assunpink Creek, which is also listed as a state flood hazard for its entire reach. The Assunpink runs into the Delaware River.

In the 1960s, the creek was  widened and dammed into an artificial lake to help decrease the chances of flooding.  But there have been flooding problems along Sorority Row, around the chapel and in the commuter and visitor parking lots.

When Rey and the other members of SPE left the event, there were only a couple of inches of water on the campus.

“By the time the sun started to set, I went back to my room and grabbed my camera,” Rey said. “Maybe about a half-hour or 45 minutes later I went back out to take a couple of pictures.”

Rey said the bridge connecting Poyda to the academic buildings was “impassable” and that the benches next to the bridge were completely under water.

“It was seriously a flash flood type of thing, but it happened within the course of a couple of hours,” Rey said.

Rey stated that most of the  flooding took place at the back of campus and on the commuter and visitor lots where the road splits after entering from the south entrance.

“Two cars were under water in the parking lot,” Rey said. “If that happened during the school year that would have been a lot of cars because those lots are full then.”

Rider has continuously been striving to improve these situations. The university has recently invested in porous pavement to reduce water runoff, spending $750,000 for the West Village parking lot and $1.5 million for the new back lot.

The pavement is supposed to prevent water from going back into streams and, instead, be absorbed back into the soil, becoming ground water. The pavement also requires vacuuming to keep air voids open to allow the water to pass through, in another attempt to prevent flooding.

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