Students drenched thanks to poor drainage
In a deluge of rain like the one Baylor campus received on Friday, it is not uncommon for flooding to occur on streets, sidewalks and buildings.
“Fifth Street floods just from the age of it,” said Brian Nicholson, associate vice president for facility, planning and construction. “You’ll notice when you go up and down Fifth Street there are not storm drains at all, so when it rains, the water goes down the street all the way to Waco Creek. That’s the primary reason for the flooding.”
Even if students had the forethought to bring an umbrella, staying dry from the ankle down was a challenge.
Richardson sophomore Kristen Anderson said she had to trek through a flood.
At one point, the water was level with the tall curbs on Fifth Street.
“It was so unbelievably flooded from the lack of any sort of drainage it was comical,” Dallas sophomore Ashley Price said. “At one point I couldn’t get to the sidewalk because there was too much water and it filled up my rainboots.”
The campus area was under a flash flood warning from 9:43 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. Friday. According to KWTX, Waco received 3.11 inches of rain that day.
Orlando, Fla., junior Brandon Plumlee said he is used to rain as it is a frequent occurrence in Florida. Though he remained positive about it, he was one of many students with soaked shoes in class on Friday.
“The drainage system could be better, but I wouldn’t go so far as saying it downright sucks because Waco doesn’t typically get that much rain,” Plumlee said. “It could definitely be better for sure, but I’m not faulting them because they don’t really expect to get deluges like the other day.”
Fifth Street was not the only flooded area on campus. Sidewalks gathered water and pooled up in many areas across campus. Nicholson said he attributes this to the age of the campus.
“A lot of factors go into standing water,” Nicholson said. “When you have the amount of rain we got Friday in the short amount of time, sometimes those things happen. If there’s water ponding in places, it could be because of settlement. We have a large campus and a very old campus in parts, so sometimes concrete settles, ground settles and all of those can certainly be contributing factors.”
Baylor’s master plan for the campus includes putting a plaza in Fifth Street. Nicholson said the date for beginning and finishing this project is undetermined, but when this project is started, there will be improvements made to the drainage system.
“When we improve Fifth Street and put in a plaza, long-term drainage will be a part of that.” Nicholson said. “Certainly as we do new buildings, drainage is a part of that. If we have large problems on campus, we try to identify the cause of those and fix them.”
Both the Bill Daniel Student Center and Hankamer School of Business flooded as a result of the rain. A drainage pipe in the SUB was clogged during the storm, but because of the previous lack of rain, the clog had gone unnoticed. The business school had a rusted line behind the middle of a wall that burst.
“Neither of those buildings should flood like they used to since some improvements have been made,” Nicholson said. “We made sure all the drainage systems were up and running.”
Flooding should not be an issue on newer parts of campus due to more modern engineering.
These parts of campus include East Village and Third Street.
“When we put in streets and when we do new projects obviously we look at the drainage associated with those and where the water goes,” Nicholson said. “All of that has to be evaluated by engineers and the city of Waco.”