Employees were evacuated by boat from a flooded building at the University of Louisville on Aug. 4 after heavy rain pounded the region, submerging cars up to their rooftops and lagooning buildings in several feet of water on two of the university’s campuses.
Rescue units from local police and fire departments used orange inflatable rafts equipped with small engines to pick up 30 stranded employees at the Houchens building, on the university’s main Belknap campus.
The responders first picked up a pregnant woman and people with medical conditions, then returned several times to bring the remaining employees to dry ground, where carpools were arranged. Many could not get to their own vehicles, which were trapped under water.
“They couldn’t go anywhere. They couldn’t get out of the building,” said Mark R. Hebert, a university spokesman. “There’s never been anything like this in the city of Louisville.”
Aside from one broken wrist and some sprained ankles, there were no serious injuries, he added.
During the morning commute Tuesday, as much as six inches of rain fell in a one-hour-and-15-minute period, according to city officials in a televised press conference.
Twelve buildings on the Belknap campus lost electricity, and nine had flooding. On the Health Sciences campuses, six buildings were without electricity and 20 had flooding, including one building with more than two feet of water. The university has not yet determined what the damage will cost, Mr. Hebert said, but employees are already beginning to clean up the campuses.
The Belknap campus and the School of Public Health and Information Sciences on the Health Sciences campus were closed on Aug. 5. The Shelby campus and the remainder of the Health Sciences campus will remain open.
At least two other institutions of higher education in Louisville, Bellarmine and Spalding Universities, were also closed on Tuesday because of flooding, according to announcements on their web sites.
Once the storm hit, physical plant personnel, public safety and University of Louisville Police began working to secure the Belknap and Health Sciences campuses. The Provost’s Office set up a carpool program to help employees whose cars were flooded get home.
“We feel fortunate there weren’t any serious injuries on campus,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff and faculty, I’m sure we’ll rebound quickly from this terrible storm.”