Monday was the perfect day to start the fall semester at Castleton State College, but despite picturesque weather the college called off its first day of classes after the school suffered damage from tropical storm Irene the day before.
The hurricane that touched down in New York early Sunday morning made its way into Vermont by late afternoon. The sky filled with foreboding clouds, and eventually rain began to fall. It seemed quite average, until the storm truly began to hit, relentlessly slamming the college with harsh winds, rain, and flood water.
“This is just crazy, just scary,” said freshman Dylan Hubina on Sunday as the storm raged.
The biggest victim of Irene’s destruction was Castleton’s new athletic complex that had been renovated two years prior. Over six feet of water pooled in the parking lot, almost totally submerging cars.
Students watched in amazement from atop the driveway to the athletic complex as floodwaters caved in the metal doors and rushed into locker rooms and athletic offices on the lower floors of the building. The roofs of two cars could just barley be seen and another parked car vanished entirely beneath the surface of the floodwaters. Public Safety officers and CSC staff cordoned off the area near the waters fearing that they might be partially electrified from the stadium and the building.
On Monday, the extent of the damage inside was revealed.
Piles of soaked, muddy jerseys dotted the lawn in front of Glenbrook Gymnasium Monday morning as students, faculty and volunteers began to empty out the building. Garbage cans full of clothes were lugged out two at a time all filled with uniforms of Castleton’s sports teams.
Samantha Funk, a senior at Castleton, volunteered and sorted through all of the clothes and instructed the athletes where to put things as they were carried out.
“The school I’m student teaching at got canceled, so I’m just here to help out,” Funk said with a laugh.
On the other side of the athletic complex people sorted and paired cleats, hosed down all of the stools, and piled all of the football helmets together.
“We’re very lucky that today the sun is shining and that we have so many student athletes helping out. Makes the job go a lot faster,” said Deanna Tyson, associate dean of Athletics and Recreation.
“I’m glad to be helping out. It feels really good. Just standing there with nothing to do felt really helpless,” said Dan Senif, a junior on the football team.
Head football coach, Marc Klatt, was busy assessing the damage Monday and was unable to give a comment on the impact of the flooding.
“What can you feel? It sucks, but we’re making the best of it,” said Ethan Zorsi, student assistant with the football team.
The team, at one point, could be heard outside singing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ from within the ruined locker room.
Many of the areas off campus were affected as well.
Off campus students that live in the surrounding areas had to be evacuated from their homes. Community Advisers brought sandwiches and drinks from Huden dining hall who were temporarily staying in the campus center.
“There were firemen and police and we were told we had 15 minutes to evacuate. I was on the first floor hoping to move some stuff, but that’s not going to happen,” said senior Jenna Donavon on Sunday.
The student apartments located at Cemetery Drive in Castleton were evacuated when floodwaters began to engulf the street from the nearby Castleton River.
Residents Meg Daly and Taylor Pagnam returned to their home at Cemetery early this morning after spending the night with friends.
“Our house had minor damage in it with a couple inches of water in the basement,” said Pagnam. “But the houses next door had knee high water in them and were worse.”
Other areas on North Road suffered from overflowing waters as well during the rain storm damaging properties and covering the road.
Classes will resume on Tuesday morning. While power was only briefly lost on some areas of campus internet and e-mail access is still down leaving many students on campus confused and uncertain about their class schedules for the rest of the week. A help hotline, 802-468-6043, has been set up and is available for students.
While the gym and athletic complex suffered the worst, Spartan stadium and the athletic fields were flooded as well but fared better with the turf field having only been slightly damaged. Castleton officials are still assessing most of the damage but minor repairs have already begun.