CHAPEL HILL – More than two dozen UNC employees received a standing ovation at a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday for their response to this summer’s flash flooding which swept through campus.
Alston Gardner, Vice Chair of the Board, praised members of the grounds crew, campus maintenance, building services and housing support for their efforts.
“We really want to thank you, each and every one of you, for making that sacrifice,” Gardner said. “I know sometimes we can’t convince the Legislature to give you guys a raise, but one thing we can do is say thank you for everything you’ve done for us.”
The June 30th flood dumped more than 5 inches of rain in just a few hours, endangering close to 90 buildings across campus.
Only about 14 grounds crew members were on campus due to the upcoming July 4th holiday. Mark Bristol, Director of Building Services, said that they were also were understaffed because it was a Sunday.
“And it just came, and went and these guys were just so spectacular in being able to pick up the phone and say, “I’ll be there.” And it made the clean-up effort go a whole lot smoother than it would have,” Bristol said.
UNC staff member Charles Streeter shared the story of how severe the flooding was at the chemistry facilities, which include a cluster of buildings: Morehead, Kenan and Caudill laboratories; Venable and Murray halls; and parts of Chapman Hall and the Genomic Sciences building.
One of the workers who responded to the flooding there said he saw the rising waters destroy computers, books and carpeting. He even saw a door ripped from its hinges as a result of the fast moving water, as reported in a university publication.
Bristol said the employees stayed well into the early morning hours of July 1st to clean up after the damage was done.
“It was just a great overall team effort,” he said. “These guys were willing to take time away from their homes and get in here and give us a hand because we had our hands full.”
Bristol said the clean-up work continued over the next month and a half to make sure that campus buildings were ready and safe for students to return.