Benzing Res­i­dence

Rain­water flooded Benzing Res­i­dence on the morning of Monday, Sept. 30, soiling the basement flooring and dam­aging the belongings of several res­i­dents. The basement of the Sigma Chi fra­ternity house also flooded — an occur­rence which Sigma Chi House Man Michael HagEstad said happens at least once a year.

Around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, the water began leaking through a back door that leads into the basement of Benzing. The water flowed up the hall and into a study room, a workout room, and about eight res­i­dential rooms. Head Res­ident Assistant Jolene Estruth said the water got up to about four inches at the deepest point.

“The water started coming up the hall, coming towards me kind of like in the film ‘Titanic,’” Estruth said. “It wasn’t too deep, but enough to cover the ground and damage any items that were on the floor.”

Estruth said the college already had a crew on the way by the time somebody woke her up at 6:45 a.m., and within the fol­lowing 15 minutes, the per­sonnel had arrived, evac­uated the res­i­dents, and begun resolving the issue.

During the remainder of the day, Hillsdale College main­te­nance per­sonnel and Servpro, a pro­fes­sional water removal company, extracted the water from the floors. With the aid of college cus­to­dians, they also sham­pooed the carpet, deep-cleaned every surface in the rooms, and pro­vided laundry ser­vices for any soiled bedding or clothing. Main­te­nance will also be con­ducting moisture tests for the three days fol­lowing the flooding.

Estruth said the whole sit­u­ation was stressful, but the college handled it in the best way pos­sible.

“The college has been very gen­erous to make sure that every­thing is taken care of,” Estruth said. “They responded very promptly and very well, espe­cially con­sid­ering that the gala is this week and they have a million other things to do.” 

Asso­ciate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell gave res­i­dents the option of staying in another room in Benzing or another dor­mitory until the cleaning was com­plete. Dell has also begun the process of com­pen­sating stu­dents for any sig­nif­i­cantly damaged items.

Benzing res­ident sophomore Shelby Dorman said she and her roommate had no damaged items because they were able to get their belongings off the floor and onto their beds before evac­u­ating.

“A cus­todian came into our room that morning to tell us there was water coming in, so we started moving things off of the ground,” Dorman said. “But then she came back and said, ‘No, you have to evacuate!’ So I guess we had no damages because we didn’t quite follow instruc­tions.”

As of Tuesday, Dorman said she was sleeping in another room in Benzing because her belongings were still on her bed as the room was cleaned.

Because Benzing is located at the bottom of the hill on which campus sits, there are catch-basins with drains on both the north and west sides of Benzing. The basins have filled with water during pre­vious rain­falls, but Dell said this was the first time in at least 30 years that the basins have over­flowed and flooded the dor­mitory.

Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said that because there had been sig­nif­icant rainfall in the four days leading up to Monday morning, the ground was sat­u­rated and all the drains up the hill of campus and down to the “bowl” behind Benzing were full.

“The basins have gotten full and sub­sided before,” Péwé said. “But there was a lot of rain in a short period of time, so the water did not have time to evap­orate or drain away.”

Péwé also said the Slayton Arboretum was almost com­pletely flooded, which he had never seen happen before.

Péwé said the recent con­struction on campus has most likely caused a greater water run-off.

“Now that we know there seems to be more water coming down the hill, whether because of how we ren­o­vated Gal­loway or because other sur­faces are smoother now. We will make an effort to adjust and make sure this doesn’t happen in the future,” Péwé said.

In an email to the res­i­dents affected, Dell said the college had a con­tractor on site Monday morning and is taking active steps to ensure the “bowl” behind Benzing doesn’t overflow again.  

At the Sigma Chi house, the basement flooded to the extent it does at least once a year, according to HagEstad.

“We’ve done some hodge­podge things to fix it. We’ve covered some of the windows that are at ground level, but we suspect that its actually a foun­da­tional issue,” HagEstad said.

According to HagEstad, there was a similar flood over the summer, which caused clothing stored in the basement to get moldy. 

Hagestad said the fra­ternity is now starting to address this recurring issue and will pos­sibly conduct a fundraiser to remodel the house.

The water that leaked in Monday damaged every­thing on the basement floor, including books, clothes, and even some elec­trical equipment. 

HagEstad said the fra­ternity has cleaned up the water on their own in the past, but this year the main­te­nance department helped them out.

“This year, main­te­nance was fan­tastic,” HagEstad said. “They came in and cleaned it up in about 20 minutes. When I returned to the house after my classes, the area was all dry and smelled nice, too.”