Weekend rains result in flooding in campus buildings, bus

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Water levels rose quickly around Austin, including in Waller Creek on campus, during the heavy rainfall Friday morning.

Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Several University buildings and a UT shuttle bus experienced flooding after historic amounts of rainfall in Austin on Friday, according to UT spokeswoman Laurie Lentz.

The National Weather Service announced a tornado warning, a severe thunderstorm warning, and a flash flood warning for Austin throughout the day. The Lady Bird Lake area got 9.13 inches of rain on Friday, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

By Friday afternoon, some campus buildings felt the rain’s effects — Welch Hall experienced flooding in the building’s east lower level due to a  malfunctioning drain line, and Robert Lee Moore Hall experienced water leakage on the 14th floor, Lentz said. The flooding then continued on to the 13th floor.

Several inches of water were also contained in mechanical rooms in the Texas Swim Center, and fire alarms in Mezes and Andrew dormitory also went off Friday due to water infiltration.

Capital Metro spokeswoman Melissa Ayala said a UT shuttle bus was impacted by partial flooding.

“We evacuated all the passengers and the operator,” Ayala said. “There were no injuries.”

The University did not cancel classes on Friday, but instead urged students, faculty and staff to review shelter procedures if high winds or a tornado took place, according to an email sent by the University.

“While the conditions here currently are wet and at times windy, there is no serious weather threat at this time,” the email read.

The University looks at current and forecasted weather conditions before making a decision on canceling or delaying classes, according to the University of Texas Police Department. As a precaution, UTPD closed off parts of 24th Street alongside Waller Creek, according to the department’s Facebook page. 

Journalism senior Taylor Weese said she thinks the University should have canceled classes so that commuters who live farther away from campus would not have had to put themselves in danger to attend school.

“Most flood deaths occur in vehicles and you’re not doing anything to discourage that behavior,” Weese said. “Students don’t always have the option to just stay home when there are attendance or even test grades scheduled. When we have a campus of around 70k students and staff, you have to be considerate of those traveling from other areas where the weather is far more severe.”

The University also takes other college and school districts’ decisions into consideration, according to UTPD. Both Austin Community College and Austin Independent School District altered their normal schedules for the day. Austin Community College canceled all classes and activities for the day, and ACC campuses reopened 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

AISD also announced early release times for Palm and Blazier elementary schools due to flooding, but maintained regular dismissal for all other elementary, middle and high schools, according to the district’s website.

The airfield at Austin-Bergstrom Airport was shut down on Friday after a record 14.53 inches of because of the severe weather conditions, according to a tweet from the airport’s twitter account. Subsequent tweets from the airport indicated that flights continued to be affected throughout the weekend and into Monday morning.