Mayflower residents warned of flooding


Brenna Norman/The Daily Iowan
A group stands in front of Mayflower Hall on Monday. Recently, UI officials sent out an e-mail to Mayflower residents detailing evacuation and relocation plans if the dorm gets flooded again.
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For students living in Mayflower Hall, spring rainfall could mean more than blooming flowers and the onset of summer.

It could mean a new home.

According to an e-mail from University Housing Director Von Stange, the potential for flooding this spring is “above normal” as determined by the university’s tracking of the Iowa River’s water level.

If flooding occurs, it could require the evacuation of the residence hall, he said.

“If it appears likely that the Iowa River will overflow its banks to the degree that it makes Mayflower Hall inaccessible, we plan to relocate everyone living in Mayflower for the duration of the flood threat,” Stange said in the e-mail, which was sent March 18.

Mayflower coordinator Benjamin Black said the university has considered various options to house displaced students, and he noted that the chance of an evacuation occurring are extremely small.

The university plans to construct flood barriers on Dubuque Street if the need arises, he said.

Despite the elevated risk described by officials, students living in the dorm said they aren’t worried.

“We just thought it was sort of outrageous,” said freshman Mayflower resident Kelly DePalma. “We don’t really expect it to happen.”

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Part of DePalma’s confidence stems from living on the third floor, which would most likely prevent her possessions from being ruined, she said. After receiving the e-mail, she talked with her suitemates and roommate but did not feel the need to take any action.

In June 2008, the Iowa River rose up to the first floor of the residence hall, putting more than 500 Mayflower units out of commission.

Residents assigned to live in Mayflower that summer were moved to other buildings. After two months of cleanup, the university reopened the dorm in the fall of 2008, just in time for the start of the fall semester.

Dubuque Street, which runs in front of the building, is prone to flooding.

But because the flood threat is not imminent, Stange said, officials plan to keep the residence hall open as long as emergency vehicles and buses can access the building.

Still, some students living in Mayflower say they’ll remain attentive.

“I was a little nervous,” freshman resident Lily Henderson said after receiving the e-mail. “I wasn’t in Iowa City when the flood happened, so I have no idea what to expect.”

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