North Park Evacuates Students, Cancels Classes

Post a Comment » Written on September 15th, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (September 15, 2008) – North Park University students who live in the Anderson and Burgh Residence Halls spent their second night “away from home” on Sunday evening due to severe flooding in the aftermath of heavy rains that plagued Chicago over the weekend.

Classes were cancelled today as university officials assess the damage and the cleanup that will be required.

The heavy rain – which set a new Chicago record for the amount of rainfall in a single day – was a byproduct of the storms that ravaged large portions of the Gulf Coast, forcing evacuation of hundreds of thousands of individuals and forcing the cancellation of Sunday worship services in several Evangelical Covenant churches (see related story in this online report).

Anderson HallThe North Branch of the Chicago River, which runs through the North Park campus, overflowed its banks, forcing school officials to issue an evacuation order Saturday evening for students living in the two dorms. Water stood several feet high in the Anderson parking lot on Sunday night.

The relocation was necessary because the water began to cover the electrical transformers that are next to Anderson and regulate power to that dorm as well as Burgh and the Magnuson Center, President David Parkyn said in a message emailed to students and posted on the school’s website. The top photo, taken by Doug Nystrom, shows flooding in the lower level of Anderson Hall. The lower photo shows a bus stop not far from the campus along Foster Avenue – buses had to be rerouted. To see additional photos, please see Campus Flooding.

Students spent the past two nights either with friends and family in the area or at the Helwig Center, which was opened to accommodate those who could not find other shelter. Because the cafeteria is located in Magnuson, ARA is serving meals in Hamming Hall to students with meal plans. The food service company is bringing the meals from Northwestern University, which it also serves.

The F.M. Johnson Archives along with the Covenant Archives and Historical Library remain unaffected by the nearby flooding, reports Anne Jenner, Covenant archivist and director of the F.M. Johnson Archives and Special Collections. “I’ve received a few calls from concerned Covenanters,” she reports on the archives website. “All of Brandel Library remains dry despite our close proximity to the North Branch.”

Parkyn updated students Sunday night at the beginning of the regular College Life worship service and was at least temporarily the most popular person on campus when he announced classes would be canceled. The president also told students they might be called on to volunteer to help others in the community.

Students actually had already started helping out on Saturday night, when many of them helped city crews place sandbags along the river, which runs through the south portion of the campus. Some students brought sandwiches to the workers.

Students said Sunday night they were adapting to the displacement. “People were frustrated at first, but they’re starting to get used to it,” said Colin Lindstedt, a freshman from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, who lives on the top floor of Burgh.

He had watched the river rise since Friday, but was surprised when the evacuation order was given Saturday night. Students assisted one another, grabbing items for roommates who were not at the dorms.

Bus stopFreshman Mariam Ukbazghi of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had been shopping all day Saturday and returned that evening to find she couldn’t get into her room at Anderson. “I saw the water overflowing, and the trash cans were floating.”

Ukbazghi, who was staying with her sister near campus, said “I had nothing with me at all.”

Freshman Katherine Mook had returned from her home in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, on Sunday night, and still was carrying her luggage when she arrived at the College Life service. Her roommate had called her the previous night to let her know of the flooding, but Mook was hoping she would have been able to return to the dorms when she arrived.

“I was kind of bummed because I really wanted to sleep in my bed,” she said.

The school allowed students to briefly return to Burgh and Anderson on Sunday afternoon to retrieve more items.

Lindstedt praised the school for keeping the students constantly informed through emails and postings on the website.

The situation could have been worse. Several blocks west of the campus on St. Louis Avenue, residents were canoeing in the street.

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