Rainwater rushed down the streets of Worcester, creating dangerous conditions, trapping vehicles, and causing property damage across the city and on Clark’s campus.
On the evening of Oct. 21, flash flood warnings were issued for Worcester and surrounding communities. Flooding began in Worcester just after 7 p.m., according to information released by the Worcester Police Department (WPD) that night.
As the storm carried on, Park Avenue, Shrewsbury Street, and at least ten other streets across the city were shut down according to a list posted by WPD on their Facebook page.
The public was warned to stay off the roads if possible, and to avoid low-lying areas if they had to travel. A number of cars stalled in the flooded streets.
Additionally, power outages occurred in a number of neighborhoods as reported by WPD.
Clark University was not spared by the storm.
“There was significant flooding in Goddard Library due to Friday night’s heavy rains,” reported librarian Gwen Arthur in an email shared with the Clark community.
In the email as well as an interview, Arthur said that the flood affected floors two through five, with the bulk of the damage affecting the fourth and fifth floors, particularly Academic Technology Services.
“The Goddard Library was built in 1969 and has a flat roof which poses challenges whenever we face extreme weather conditions,” said Arthur in an email. This caused water damage that began on the highest floor and trickled down.
The water was discovered by Ben Berman (‘16), who had gone to the fifth floor to watch the lightning.
“In the distance I [could] see a reflection on the floor … I was like ‘I don’t remember there being tile on the fifth floor,’” Berman recalled, explaining that further inspection revealed not tiles, but large puddles on the carpet.
Berman reported the water to Samantha Stanley, who was the library supervisor on duty that night.
Berman and Stanley inspected the damage, which “gets worse and worse as you go up,” according to Berman.
The pooled water on the fifth floor leaked to lower levels, forming a “little, mini, trickling waterfall,” he said.
He noted that during his and Stanley’s inspection, a water-soaked ceiling tile fell. From there. Stanley handled the situation and contacted University Police and Physical Plant.
“We are very fortunate in having such great, committed staff members who care so much about the Library and the University,” said Arthur, extending gratitude to Stanley “for the great job she did both Friday and Saturday at assessing the problems and addressing the damage.”
The library was closed approximately one hour early Friday night. However, the Academic Commons remained open as usual. Only the fourth and fifth floors were closed Saturday.
“We were extremely lucky,” said Arthur. The collections were not damaged, and the overall effects on the facility were minor.
“Physical plant did a wonderful job and came in right away,” said Arthur, who was grateful for their response to the flooding. By Monday, Oct. 24 , most of the cleanup was complete. The library is currently functioning as usual.
Cleanup in Worcester was quickly underway as well. Streets were reopened and manhole covers were replaced Saturday, according to a statement made that day by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr.
Despite damage and inconvenience Oct. 21, rapid responses minimized the long-term effects of the flash flooding for Clark and Worcester alike.