The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 24, 1993 - 5
One small casualty in this
summer's massive war against
nature, students at universities
in Iowa grin and bear dampened
circumstances and try to get life
he frazzled woman behind the
desk in the University of Iowa
(UI) housing office has answered
the same question countless times
a day - every day -- since the
dorm first closed.
"We'll try to be accommodating. Soon you
will have a permanent room. We're shooting
for October 15."
Although the date has changed each week
since school began, she's pretty sure this time
she's telling the truth. And while the 900
students living in temporary housing grin and
bear the situation, they can't wait to finally
have their own space.
The UI Mayflower residence hall in Iowa
City, Iowa, Oas been closed since early July
when flood waters rushed up to its front steps,
poured into its basement and destroyed its
Given less than an hour to evacuate, the
students living there this summer grabbed a
few T-shirts and a handful of CDs and sud-
denly became residential refugees.
It was supposed to be a temporary prob-
But the rains had no mercy.
The river continued to rise, and soon the
summer became fall.
The 1,000 students scheduled to occupy
Mayflower were piled into more than 500
makeshift barracks of residence hall lounges
and squeezed into 400 rooms that were sup-
posed to be for one.
One small casualty in this summer's mas-
sive war against nature, UI continues to an-
ticipate the consequences of the flood.
Two months after the Great Flood of 1993
captured the nation's compassion and prayers,
communities are still pumping water out of
basements. Entrepreneurs are still selling
equipment to capitalize on the disaster. And
farmers are still looking for ways to compen-
sate for crops that couldn't swim.
But students at universities in the flood
plain are happy just to be back at school.
Despite disruptions in the normal college life-
style, they're psyched to kick back in a bar
Friday after class.
Due to flood damage to a University of Iowa dormitory, first-year student Aaryn Schultz and sophomores Melissa Mayer and Sara Cheesman are among the 540 Iowa students who have been living in the
makeshift barracks of residence hall lounges since classes began Aug. 26. (ABOVE) A University of Iowa employee clears mud from a sidewalk that recently emerged from under water.
"You go along and you take things for granted - like that river. Then suddenly you realize the
power of mother nature. It's something completely overwhelming.
AT THE MERCY OF THE
It was the Fourth of July weekend, but
threatening rivers precluded celebration at
schools across the flood region.
One-third of the Iowa State campus in
Ames, Iowa, was under water by July 9. The
ISU center - a huge performing arts and
athletic structure - filled with 14 million
Disappointed UI seniors in Iowa City
learned that the summer commencement cer-
emony would be cancelled. And the likeli-
hood that the flood would postpone fall classes
increased with the size of the river.
Universities in Iowa were at the mercy of
Even on the rare sunny days, Iowans could
sit by the river and watch it rise due to rainfall
hundreds of miles upstream.,
Administrators and students in Iowa be-
came captives, frantically fighting a war they
couldn't win and preparing for what could
The three men livino in the Phi Tlelta Thea4
"The day-to-day stress of what will hap-
pen next and the crisis management was the
most challenging experience I've had in the
profession," said Tom DePrenger, director of
The only ones who could relax this sum-
mer, it seemed, were the orientees.
Because orientation coordinators aimed to
hide the chaos from orientees, this summer's
incoming class may have had an even easier
orientation than previous classes, said Jan
Warren, program assistant for UI orientation
In summers past, incoming students quiv-
ered at the thought of leaving high school
friends, moving in with strangers and entering
the unknown. But the 1993 incoming class
was staying afloat - literally - in the
century's worst natural disaster.
Compared to this, meeting a new room-
mate was like wading in the shallow end.
"Rather than creating an added tension (to
orientation), the flood almost worked the other
way," Warren added. "It really put things into
perspective. (Students) sort of had the attitude
that 'If I can handle the flood, I can handle
For many orientees, the trip to Iowa City
- though longer than usual due to water
flooding four of the five roads entering cam-
pus - was actually a chance to get away.
Compared to damage to some students' homes,
campus looked like the Sahara, and for the
large number of students who came from Des
Moines during the 14-day water shortage,
orientation meant a chance to take a shower.
Considering the fact that every county in
Iowa was declared a disaster area this sum-
mer, starting school this year was a breeze -
that is, for students who had a place to live.
only mirror is in high demand and some stretch
extension cords down the hall to blow dry,
When the semester began, 540 students
living in dorm lounges at UI hung posters on
the walls to create a semblance of home. They
made the best of their situation and tried to
laugh at the annoyances.
Dealing with nine roommates is a pain,
they say. So is living out of a suitcase a month
But these are inconveniences. Nothiig
They're glad to have a place to live. ]
"It's something you live with. You just]
accept it," Mayer said, smiling.]
Once a week, lounge students receive a
notice called Temp Times, updating the status
of the Mayflower cleanup. The Housing Of-
fice uses these notices to keep loungees in-
formed and to avoid the gossip that flies1
around Iowa City and surrounding communi-
Students sigh when the Temp Times tells]
them it'll be another week before they can
move into Mayflower, but they can't really
"The common denominator here is the
flood. All the students here have had contact1
with disaster this summer. It's not1
management's fault," said George Droll, di-
rector of residence services.
"This is heaven compared to the problems
people have right now," agreed UI sophomore
Sara Chesman. "I'm just glad that our school
is still here."
Then there's Brandon Winn, a first-year
student from Bondurant, Iowa. He's using the
lounge experience to make a quick buck -
spending his spare time marketing a Late-
Night T-shirt with the "top ten reasons lounge
budgets or drain student pocketbooks.
Iowa universities may have to raise tuition
to pay for the $7.7 million in damages to ISU
and the $4.5 million in damages to UI.
And empty beds at UI will translate into
severe revenue loss.for the Housing Office.
"Eventually, something's going to have to
give," Droll said.
It's also unclear whether schools will be
able to provide additional financial aid to
students who suffered personal loss due to the
There is no magic formula to determine
how much financial aid will be necessary, UI
Director of Financial Aid Mark Warner said.
Right now, it is too early - for both families
and universities - to make estimates.
There are too many unanswered questions,
What exactly is the damage to homes and
businesses? How much will insurance cover?
Will there be an early frost? What kind of aid
will be made available by the federal and state
Students won't start lining up outside the
financial aid office until they know the an-
swers to some of these questions.
But Warner saidheknows the lines will get
longer - particularly next year once families
have assessed the damage. Fornow, he's count-
- Geoff Dahl, UI senior.
ing on the current system to handle extenuat-
ing financial circumstances.
"What we need to be prepared for is unan-
ticipated large numbers," he said.
At the University of Missouri, however,
more than 100 students have already come
forward to request additional financial sup-
port in direct response to flood damage, said
Associate Director of Financial Aid Leonard
Johnsen said many of the Columbia, Mo.,
university's students come from flooded St.
Louis areas and from Iowa, and have already
begun to request extra funds.
But all schools with students from flooded
regions will have difficulty satisfying addi
tional student needs.
Universities will have to wait to find out
how requests for additional funds fared with
the government. Of the $5.7 billion flood
relief package approved by Congress in July,
$30 million was earmarked for Pell Grant,
funding. In addition, the U.S. Department of&
Education declared that unused funds from
last year will be made available to schools in
the flood region.
"But we're just going to have to wait and
see," Warner said. "I feel we're prepared but
with disasters like this one, you never how
what's going to happen."