The morning after the July 1 storm dumped more than 3 inches of rain on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus in under an hour, university operations teams, many of whom had worked through the night, continued to support recovery efforts.
Since the storm’s onslaught, operations crews from across Virginia Tech have been clearing debris, unclogging drainage areas, documenting and resolving water damage in and around campus buildings, and evaluating and restoring impacted electrical and HVAC services.
The Friday morning following the storm, through a blanket of heavy mist, the white trucks of Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities were seen caravaning by Lane Stadium, all filled to the brim with branches and limbs.
Adorned in bright yellow vests, team members armed with leaf blowers walked by the Hokie Shop, only shutting off their blowers to allow a visiting family with awed expressions walk by.
Crawling under the Graduate Life Center, Virginia Tech Electric Service and Facilities Operations crews inspected and pumped water away from critical electrical units shut down because of flooding. Outfitted with flashlights and equipped with box fans and wet-vacs, crews worked through the night.
The Graduate Life Center experienced especially significant flooding. The building’s position on top of the Stroubles Creek watershed and at the base of a hill contributed to the deluge.
Virginia Tech Police and Parking Services were seen setting up bright orange cones along Duck Pond Drive. Facilities Operations crews towed larger-than-life leaf-blowers from its grounds fleet to clear the roads of debris. Virginia Tech Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center buzzed with activity.
Student Affairs operations crews also worked nonstop, assisting with recovery efforts in Owen Hall, Squires Hall, and the Graduate Life Center. In Owens Hall, Mail Services employees were deciding if the next stream of packages should be transferred to War Memorial Hall for processing.
“The last similar response effort of this magnitude for flooding was probably in the early 1990s. All of these university teams from across the university are connected by an instinctual Ut Prosim spirit. I have deep appreciation for their hard work, collaboration, and commitment to safety as they worked around the clock to restore campus operations,” said Chris Kiwus, vice president for campus planning, infrastructure, and facilities.
“I’ve been doing electrical work for around 37 years and have seen a lot. The storm response actions have been nothing short of inspiring. Even in the midst of Thursday’s storm, there was an unwavering professionalism exhibited by everyone to accomplish the task at hand,” said Chris Cooper, electric service supervisor.
With the Blacksburg campus situated in a floodplain, engineering teams will continue to assess where structural improvements can be implemented in the future.